Book Review: Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen #1)
Narrated By: Natalie Moore
Published By: Listening Library
Publication Date: May 2006 
Audio Length: 6 hours, 7 minutes
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

On the Story & Writing:

Football is a way of life for most people in the South. During the fall, we eat, breathe, and sleep the sport. In small towns all over the United States, fall signifies not only the leaves changing and the weather getting cooler, but the appearance of high school football. People put aside their worries and flock to stadiums on Friday nights to get their fix and support the home team. If you're lucky, the home team is also the winning team and you'll have bragging rights until the next season rolls around. There is something wonderful about this sport that brings people together. It's always been a huge part of my life (probably because my Dad is a high school coach) and I find myself counting down the days until the first game of the season. I can't speak to the dairy portions of this novel, but I can say the football is spot on.

To help tide me over this spring and summer, I started looking for contemporaries that had football connections. I read this one and Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally around the same time; I ended up loving them both. While you make think these two novels are a lot alike, I need to set you straight on that point. Aside from a girl playing football, a father who doesn't always understand, and a small town setting, D.J. and Jordan don't have a lot in common. These two characters are very different girls, but both are well worth getting to know.

D.J. lives on a  diary farm in Wisconsin. Her family is falling apart and she is trying to keep everything together. After an argument, her older brothers rarely come home. They have both thrown themselves into their college football careers and preparing for the NFL. D.J. is left to help her father with the manual labor around the farm after an injury keeps him from working. Her mom is hardly ever home due to her job as a teacher and a fill in principal. D.J. isn't very good at asking for help so she keeps working her tail off to keep the farm going and starts to ignore everything else - like her grades.

Everything starts to change when the quarterback of a rival team. Brian Nelson, is sent to the farm to work. His coach thinks it will help him train and learn how to be a leader. D.J. isn't so sure Brian is willing to learn anything from her. There is a socioeconomic clash and a few personality conflicts before these two really start to gel. D.J. helps Brian with his physical training and he helps her with jobs around the farm. The two form a friendship, but all that changes when Brian finds out that D.J. plans to try out for her high school football team.

Like in Catching Jordan, D.J. faces a lot of discrimination as a female football player. Males doubt her athletic ability and girls question her sexuality. I've always thought it was sad that people can't express their interests without being judged by others. There is some significant commentary on homosexuality in this one. While D.J. is straight and just loves football, there is another character who is struggling with being themselves in a close minded, small town. This is not the focus of the book, but I do think its an important and relevant element.

In addition, D.J.'s family will appeal to a lot of readers who have less than perfect homes. Nobody in this family talks - they just assume they know everything about the other members. The lack of communication is slowly causing the foundation of their family to crumble and it seems like nobody is willing to step up and fix the solution. D.J. often remarks on how she never knows what to say during the moment and by the time she thinks of something it's way too late. I think a lot of readers will relate to D.J. and the issues she's having at home. I did appreciate that the characters grow as the story unfolds and they do begin to seek solutions to their problems.

Also, there is a bit of romance, but it's realistic and there's no triangle in sight!

Overall, I loved this novel. I adored D.J., in spite of her quirks and self deprecating attitude. She learns to stand up for herself and go after her dreams. I need to make some time to finish this series.

On the Audio:

I think Natalie Moore did a beautiful job of bringing D.J. to life; she even does an admirable job with a Wisconsin accent. Her voice became D.J.'s in my mind. In fact, I'll probably listen to the whole series instead of reading it myself.

One Last Gripe: D.J.'s self doubt was a bit much at times.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: D.J.'s character growth

First Sentence: This whole enormous deal wouldn't have happened, none of it, if Dad hadn't messed up his hip moving the manure spreader.

Favorite Character: D.J.

Least Favorite Character: D.J.'s Dad frustrated me for most of the book.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D.J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.


  1. I've read this one and enjoyed it. I haven't read Catching Jordan yet, perhaps I should add that to my list. Great review!

    1. Catching Jordan has a lot more older teen issues than this one, but I enjoyed them both.

  2. I'm glad you liked this book so much! I've been eyeing it for a while now but I think I'm going to pick it up soon.

    1. It was a great read. It had some more serious issues than I expected. I liked that it wasn't just mindless fun.

  3. I picked this up from the library just to have something to listen to in the car and I really enjoyed it. At first I hated the Wisconsin accent, but it actually worked later on.

    1. The accent did take some getting used to at first, but like you I ended up finding that it worked really well.


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