At the beginning of the year, I decided I wouldn’t center my reading goals around the number of books I read. The pressure to read a certain amount of books in a certain amount of time was too much. I set my goal way too high and got stressed out when I had to lower it. Instead, I’d step outside of my comfort zone, which is primarily Contemporary and Historical Romance. Young Adult is one of the genres I wanted to explore more of, and I discovered the Dairy Queen series when I needed a third book for a challenge I was participating in. (I know – I gave up one challenge and took on two more. Ugh. I’m such a glutton for punishment.) While I’ve read a few Young Adult books, the number isn’t staggering. But after reading and adoring this series, I’m looking to change that.
what’s to love about this series?
A lot of things, starting with the main character, D.J. D.J Schwenk is the third child of four and the only girl of a family whose legacy is a farm that’s fallen on hard times. She is the star basketball player of Red Bend, Wisconsin’s girls basketball team, and she makes a splash when she decides to follow in the footsteps of her two older brothers and play football. This changes D.J.’s life and draws more attention than she’s ever imagined. Aside from being a good athlete, D.J.’s size sets her apart from other girls. She’s husky like her older brothers with broad shoulders and taller than most of her classmates.
Each subsequent book picks up where the previous one left off, but none of them have a cliffhanger ending. It’s D.J.’s journey, and we’re along for the ride. I also really enjoyed the amount of boyfriend drama in the series. While there was some drama with her dating life, most of the conflict centered around her family and their lack of ability to communicate. D.J.’s inner strength grows as the series progresses, as does her confidence, though to a lesser degree. There’s a major event in all three books that causes the shift – in the first one, it’s D.J. finally realizing (through her first dating drama), that her family would rather do anything other than communicate with each other. In the second, The Off Season, D.J. takes the reins when a major family event occurs, and the third, Front and Center, leads up to D.J. making a decision that will shape her entire future.
While her relationship with her entire family was enjoyable to read about, it was the bonding with D.J. and her younger brother, Curtis, that I liked most. It shows how even when you live in the same house as someone, you may not know them at all. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the cows, who were all named after famous football players. Life definitely wasn’t all sunshine and roses for D.J. Besides maintaining the farm, she had to really work to keep up her grades, and her shyness was an uphill battle. It was nice to read about a teenager who acted her age, and whose life, while including dating and boyfriends, didn’t revolve around it.
One of my favorite quotes from the book, which shows us how profound teenagers can be when we stop and listen:
“When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.”
I listened to the audio of each book in this series, and I do think it enhanced my reading experience. There’s a beauty blogger on youTube that I love to watch, and like D.J., she’s from Wisconsin. I’ve been watching her for so long I barely notice her accent anymore, but once the narrator started with these books, I realized she got it spot on!
There is one more book in this series called Heaven Is Paved with Oreos. It’s from D.J.’s little brother’s girlfriend, and I do plan to read it. I’m interested in seeing the Schwenks through someone else’s eyes, and since it’s not available in audio, I’m interested to see how my reading experience compares with the rest of the series.
should you read this series?
If you like Young Adult and like me, want to read about a main character that has something going on in her life besides boys, boys, boys, then the answer is a definite YES! This book hits close to real life, and D.J. is a wonderful main character. Since these books do pick up directly where the previous one left off and feature the same main character throughout, it’s best enjoyed if read in order.
Like I mentioned earlier, Young Adult is a genre that I want to read more of. If you have a suggestion for me, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!
Series Reading Order:
1. Dairy Queen
2. The Off Season
3. Front and Center
4. Heaven Is Paved with Oreos
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