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14 / 30 books. 47% done!

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2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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87 / 165 books. 53% done!
Saturday, November 06, 2010

Farm-Fresh YA Series Satisfies ... to the Last Drop (Um, Word)

(Image from Indiebound)

(Note: Although this review will not contain spoilers for Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its prequels. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

After 5 months of helping her older brother get back on his feet (so to speak), D.J. Schwenk is ready for life to get back to normal. Not girl-making-headlines-by-joining-the-football-team normal, but D.J.-blending-into-the-background normal. It doesn't take long for her to realize that normal is so not happening. First, there's her locker, which the girls from the basketball team have decorated to welcome her back. That's definitely never happened before. Then, there's Beaner acting all lovestruck. What's that all about? And, finally, there's the mound of recruiting letters from colleges all over the Midwest. For D.J., who's only a junior. Looks like she has to decide - and fast - what to do after high school. It's overwhelming, especially when the only thing D.J. really wants to do is milk cows, shoot some hoops and hang out with Brian Nelson. Who, by the way, is keeping his distance from a certain dairy farming girl football player.

D.J. should be elated by how everything in her life is turning out. She's being courted by the best college basketball teams in her region, she's going out with a guy who's proud to be her boyfriend (unlike certain QBs who pretend not to know her when they pass each other at Taco Bell), and her family actually seems to be on the mend. So, what's the big problem? Well, for one thing, it's not enough for her to just read the letters from the basketball coaches, she has to respond to them. Like, with a phone call. Talking isn't exactly her strong suit, especially when she's not even sure she's cut out for District III basketball. To add to the pressure, she needs a scholarship in order to afford college; to win one, she has to show leadership on the court. That means speaking up during games, something she generally leaves to everyone - anyone - else. And with Beaner? He's as comfortable as her favorite athletic shorts, but that's it. She's not in love with him. As for her family? Well, not everything has changed.

Front and Center, the satisfying conclusion to Catherine Gilbert Murdock's charming series about an oversized girl dairy farmer, follows the always empathetic D.J. as she makes pivotal decisions about her future. It really is impossible not to feel for her, laugh with her and root for her as she navigates the bumpy road to adulthood. I got a little bored with all the sports talk, but I still found this to be an enjoyable installment in a story I've enjoyed from the start. With all the dark, broody YA books on the shelf, this trilogy stands out with a sweetness that's home grown and down-to-earth. It tackles tough issues, but does so in a way that's fresh, funny and inspiring. I love it!

(Readalikes: Dairy Queen and The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for (non-graphic) make out scenes and references to homosexuality

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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