Front and Center

( 66 )


After five months of sheer absolute craziness I was going back to being plain old background D.J. In photographs of course I’m always in the background . . .
   But it turns out other folks have big plans for D.J. Like her coach. College scouts. All the town hoops fans. A certain Red Bend High School junior who’s keen for romance and karaoke. Not to mention Brian Nelson, who she should not be thinking about! Who she is done with,...

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Front and Center

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After five months of sheer absolute craziness I was going back to being plain old background D.J. In photographs of course I’m always in the background . . .
   But it turns out other folks have big plans for D.J. Like her coach. College scouts. All the town hoops fans. A certain Red Bend High School junior who’s keen for romance and karaoke. Not to mention Brian Nelson, who she should not be thinking about! Who she is done with, thank you very much. But who keeps showing up anyway . . .
   Readers first fell in love with straight-talking D. J. Schwenk in Dairy Queen; they followed her ups and downs both on and off the court in The Off Season. Now D. J.steps out from behind the free-throw line in this final installment of the Dairy Queen trilogy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The particulars of farm life, high school relationships, and college decisions are imparted with uncommon realism, and Murdock showcases the unexpected drama of everyday characters making mundane but essential life decisions. D.J.’s voice is intimate and compelling, her story both universal and unique, familiar and eye-opening. Here is a worthy send-off for a one-of-a-kind character."  —Horn Book

"[D.J.'s] self-deprecating and humorous voice is still as fresh the third time around.."  —Booklist

"Murdock successfully integrates fresh trials and pressures, well-developed primary and likable peripheral characters, and amusing introspection into the backstory. . .D.J. is ultimately a responsible, realistically flawed, funny, endearing, and strong heroine worth rooting for whether on the court or on the page."  —School Library Journal

"Front and Center is a perfect coming of age story and a completely satisfying conclusion to the three-book series."  —Jen Robinson's Book Page blog

"This was a great novel with a lot of humor, but also a lot of serious situations, and relatable characters that I loved reading about."  —

"A fantastic end to a terrific series...A+"  —Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf blog

"You won't want to miss it."  —Abby the Librarian blog

"Front and Center by Catherine Murdock is a satisfying conclusion to the Dairy Queen trilogy with a message that lasts long after you've read the last page. By emphasizing the importance of family, friendship, and support, all of which are sometimes overlooked in young adult literature, this book will motivate its reader to reach out and take risks.  —Feed Your Imagination blog

"I haven’t read the first two books in this series, but I had no problem falling in love with DJ, her family and her friends." —KISS THE BOOK blog 

VOYA - Ruth Cox Clark
In this last book in the delightfully poignant and funny Dairy Queen trilogy, D. J. Schwenk spends her junior year trying to find the verbal skills needed to be a leader on the basketball court. Disgusted with herself, D. J. does not see why coaches from Big Ten schools are coming to her small Wisconsin town to watch her play. As soon as her wheelchair-bound older brother, Win, learns that coaches and scouts are watching her, he learns how to use adaptive devices to do online research on the universities, adding to D. J.'s stress levels every time he calls home from his rehab facility. If that is not bad enough, longtime friend Beaner has decided that it is time to become D. J.'s boyfriend, but their new relationship does not keep her from thinking about ex-boyfriend Brian, who had worked on her family's dairy farm. It is Brian to whom she turns to for support as they can talk to each other about anything, something she cannot do with Beaner. While coaching another player, D. J. realizes that she might have the leaderships skills necessary to play college-level basketball after all. Teens meeting D. J. for the first time might feel as if they are missing pieces of her story, which will have them asking for Dairy Queen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006/VOYA June 2006) and Off Season (2007/VOYA October 2007). The cover art of a girl lying on her stomach in the grass may pique the interest of girls looking for a romance, but they will not be disappointed as D. J.'s insecurities about her future—while juggling her feelings for two guys—will resonate with even the girls who are not interested in sports. Reviewer: Ruth Cox Clark
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
Picture this: a tall, athletically gifted high school junior is courted by several colleges with the intent to offer a full scholarship for playing basketball. Not so obscure? It is if you are a girl, and D.J. Schwenk is about to have one emotional roller coaster of a ride. She is coming right out of football season—yes, she played on the boys' team—and is smack dab in the beginning of basketball season where she feels normal—until the college coaches begin frequenting her games and asking her to play for their schools. On top of all that pressure, there is the issue of Brian. Or is it Beaner? What are her real feelings for each? And what about her overprotective brother who practically dictates her college acceptance requests? The seemingly large cast of characters in D.J.'s life is not such a bad thing and gives her several options to share her thoughts, something all of us need. Murdock's novel about high schoolers is a safe read for everyone. There is no urban glitz or high maintenance friends to deal with, just real life and its various surprises. The main characters are easily related to. This will serve many a book club as well as an option for pleasure reading equally well. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
Gr 8–11—This final installment in the "Dairy Queen" trilogy kicks off with Wisconsin junior D.J. Schwenk back at school, having spent several weeks away helping big brother, Win, with his rehabilitation. She's catching up with classes and best friend Amber (also newly returned). D.J.'s excited and nervous for basketball season, which might score her a much-desired college scholarship and a less-desired position literally calling the shots on court. Her ex, Brian, is neither out of sight nor off her mind. But reluctantly famous D.J., who generally craves anonymity, wants a boyfriend who acknowledges her in public. Enter energetic friend Beaner, an attention magnet interested in actual dating. When recruitment letters pour in, talented athlete D.J. feels the weight of obligations and expectations (yet again) from well-meaning family, friends, recruiters, coaches, and from herself. Will she be ruled by fear or will she step up and make the choices, whether between colleges or guys, that'll make her happiest? The self-conscious teen is socially anxious, hyper aware, and cleverly observant. Her fans won't be disappointed, but new readers may occasionally feel out of the loop, compelled to read the prequels for a more invested experience. Fortunately, Murdock successfully integrates fresh trials and pressures, well-developed primary and likable peripheral characters, and amusing introspection into the backstory. Occasional doormat D.J. is ultimately a responsible, realistically flawed, funny, endearing, and strong heroine worth rooting for whether on the court or on the page—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
D.J. Schwenk returns for her third and final outing, this time heating up not the football field but the basketball court. Having ended her relationship with Brian Nelson, she takes up with buddy Beaner, although she wonders where the sparks are-and why Brian keeps showing up in her barn. Her bigger concern, though, is college. She's a serious prospect: Her coach has recruiters all over her, her meddling brother Win tells her what to do from his wheelchair and the entire town of Red Bend seems to be rooting for her. But D.J. isn't sure she can take the Division I pressure. Her coach tells her she needs to show leadership, and she's trying, but leadership involves communication, something Schwenks don't do well. Like The Off Season (2007), this lacks the freshness of Dairy Queen (2006), and D.J.'s deliciously quirky family takes a disappointing back seat to her internal wheel-spinning. Still, although there are fewer belly laughs, readers have grown so fond of D.J., they'll be happy just watching her muddle through. (Fiction. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 8–11—D. J. Schwenk has had a tough go of it in the last year. Her father broke his hip, leaving much of the work of the family dairy farm to her. She rose to the occasion and, in doing so, met Brian who became her first real boyfriend. Shortly afterwards, D. J.'s football playing older brother, Win, became paralyzed after a football accident. In this final title (Houghton Mifflin, 2009) in Catherine Murdock's Dairy Queen trilogy, D. J. has returned home from Win's rehab bedside, has started school, and begins thinking about her own future playing basketball in college. She and Brian are no longer a couple and, although Beaner, an old friend, has stepped in to fill that void, her heart is still with Brian. She knows going back to him involves risk—something D. J. shies away from. Similarly, she is afraid of the pressure of high-profile college sports. But where there is risk there are rewards, and she must face that reality head on. Although backstory is included here, listeners might want to read/listen to the previous titles first. Natalie Moore's broad Midwestern accent never falters, and listeners will feel that D. J. is actually telling the story. The teen voice is clear, and D. J.'s asides are done with real panache. The author's humor and pathos come through in Moore's performance, making this a clear choice for teen collections.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547403052
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/4/2011
  • Series: Dairy Queen Series , #3
  • Pages: 276
  • Sales rank: 361,974
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Murdock grew up on a small farm in Connecticut and now lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband, two brilliant unicycling children, several cats, and a one-acre yard that she is slowly transforming into a wee, but flourishing ecosystem. She is the author of several books, including the popular Dairy Queen series starring lovable heroine D. J. Schwenk, Princess Ben, and Wisdom's Kiss.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Back to School

Here are ten words I never thought I’d be saying . . .Well, okay, sure. I say these words all the time. It’s not like school and good and to are the kind of words you can avoid even if you wanted to. It’s just that I’ve never said them in this particular order. Not that I can remember, anyway. But what do you know, there they were inside my head, like a little thing you’d say just to get yourself psyched: It sure feels good to be going back to school.
   Because you know what? It did. It felt really good, actually, even though school hasn’t exactly ever been the center of my happiness. Normally it’s kind of the opposite, a huge boring thing I have to put up with while I’m waiting for practice to start. Or a game, if it happens to be a game day, when the clocks go fifty times slower than they normally do and you can’t hear a word the teacher says, your head’s so on the court already. But today I was actually looking forward to it all, actually looking forward to the classes and the teachers and even those stupid crackly announcements. Because today, after five months of sheer absolute insanity, my life was finally getting back to normal.
   No more football: that was one good thing. The season was over at last, so now I didn’t have to worry about everyone in the state of Wisconsin jawing about how weird it was for a girl to be playing, and then jawing about how terrible and awful and un-team-spirit-like it was for me to quit even though I wasn’t quitting, I was just saving my shoulder, which you’d think no one had ever heard of before, a player leaving because of an injury. But now hoops season was starting up, which is what I’d been saving my shoulder for, for basketball, and no one would jaw about me for even a second except to say stuff like “Nice shot” or “When’s your next game?” which is the kind of jawing I’ve been hearing forever and don’t mind at all. So that was one good thing.
   Plus I was home at last. At the moment I was driving to school, duh, but officially I was at home instead of at a huge shiny hospital, trying to convince my oldest brother not to kill himself, and then once he got his spirit back trying to convince him not to kill me because he was so desperate to boss someone around. Now Mom got to be that victim, which she was actually happy about because she’s a mom, and instead I got to live in our beat-up old house, eating real home-cooked food if you call what Dad makes food, and drive our beat-up old Caravan, and that was totally A-okay with me. Even the cooking.
   But most of all — and this is what I was looking forward to the very, very most — I was done with all that boyfriend crap. Finished with the 24/7 Brian Nelson cable station that had been running nonstop inside my skull since July. No more feeling like I was some fluttery girl who doesn’t have anything better to do all day long than think about her boyfriend. Because I did have better things to think about, thank you very much, because I am not the kind of girl who has boyfriends; I’m the kind who’s just friends with boys, which is totally different and which I’m actually kind of good at. I’d pulled the plug on that Brian Nelson cable station for good.
   That’s why it felt so nice to be getting back to school. Because after five months I was back to being plain old background D.J. That’s how I thought about it, anyway. In photographs of course I’m always in the background — it’s a family joke that us Schwenk kids could go to school naked on picture day because we’re all so crazy tall. But I mean that I was returning to the background of life.Where no one would really notice me or talk about me or even talk to me much except to say “Nice shot,” and I could just hang out without too many worries at all.
   Anyway, the words normal and background and basketball were kind of percolating through my brain — kind of the way water glugs in those big coffeepots they rev up after church, although without that coffee smell — as I drove along with Curtis. “So,” I said, feeling normal and happy enough to take a stab at a real normal conversation.
   Curtis flinched, sitting there next to me. There are rabbits, wild rabbits, calmer than my little brother, the way he acts sometimes. Then he hunkered down in his seat. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
   “It’s okay. I was just wondering how Sarah’s doing.”
   Again: making conversation. Not even using the word girlfriend. But Curtis’s ears turned red like I’d asked him to walk through town in his underwear.
   “I mean, maybe you could have her over sometime. For supper or something.”
   Which made Curtis go even redder. He hunkered down further and started picking at his jeans like they were so fascinating that no one could possibly be interested in anything else. “Yeah. Maybe.” He didn’t say anything else either, for the rest of the ride. Not one word.
   So much for making conversation.
   I pulled up to the middle school. Curtis heaved up his backpack, heavy even for him. “See you,” he said, because Mom taught him that one little bit of manners at least.
   “Five-thirty, right?”
   He nodded. Then, his legs already out of the Caravan, he turned back. “So, I was wondering how Brian was. Maybe you could have him over for supper.”
   My jaw dropped. Literally. I could not believe he said that. Of all the mean, thoughtless . . . And then I saw his mouth twitch and I finally got it: he was teasing me.
   I lunged at him but the seat belt caught me, and then he was out of the Caravan, grinning like a maniac and hustling into the building with a crowd of kids half his size.
   What a total little — I mean, here’s a kid who talks less than a rock, and it turns out the whole ride he’d been planning how to bounce back what I’d said. If it was anyone else rubbing it in about Brian, that would be one thing. But Curtis — that’s like getting mad at your dog. Although if Curtis kept pulling stunts like that, maybe I’d have to stop thinking of him as some poor little house pet and start thinking of him as a smart-mouthed kid who maybe needed a lesson on respect.
   At least I was prepared for all the questions about Win. In just the few days I’d been home, wandering around town after Thanksgiving, I’d learned that pretty much every single person in Red Bend considered it their personal duty to grill me on how he was doing every single time they saw me. Once on Saturday I let on that I was getting really tired of having to repeat this conversation, and old Mrs. Ingalls looked so upset that I felt twice as bad about hurting her feelings as she probably did about Win. That’s when I learned just to say, “He’s doing okay, thanks,” and leave it at that.
   That’s how it went in school, too, practically every kid asking, “How’sWin?” Or “Is he walking yet?” because everyone has this huge hang-up about walking, like it’s the most important thing you can do after you break your neck. And every time I’d answer, “He’s getting there” or “He’s working hard,” instead of saying that these daysWin was working mostly on feeding himself and that maybe in the big picture of life being able to eat without assistance is a lot more important than managing a few little steps. I sure thought it, though.
   I had to check in at the main office first thing, turn in these forms showing I’d been absent twenty-seven days on purpose and not because I’m a juvenile delinquent. Mrs. Henning asked about Win of course, and was telling me that if there was anything we needed just let her know, like I would obviously think of her first, when there was this huge yell of  “Geronimo!” and I had enough sense to brace my feet just as Beaner leapt up onto my back.
   Beaner Halstaad is as skinny as a string bean and has more energy than a jumping bean. He’d started doing this jumpon-my-back thing during football, and I guess he hadn’t gotten tired of it yet. Right away he started pounding on my shoulders. “You’re back, dude! That’s so awesome! Check it out, Mrs. Henning. She’s back! Isn’t that awesome?”
   “Hello, Beaner,” said Mrs. Henning, like his behavior was completely normal.Which for Beaner it is. “Hey, guess what?” Beaner poked me. “I told Justin Hunsberger you were going to be playing boys’ basketball!”
   Even Mrs. Henning had to smile at that one.
   “What’d he say?” I asked. Because of course Justin Hunsberger hates my guts like nobody’s business. And totally vice versa, too.
   “Oh, man, it was awesome.” Beaner jumped down. “He was like, ‘No way, no way,’ and I was totally serious, saying all this stuff about how you’d found this loophole and really needed to grab recruiters because of missing last season and everything. And he totally bought it! You should’ve seen his face!”
   Mrs. Henning went back to her desk with this smile like Kids today, and I couldn’t help laughing with Beaner.
   “Maybe I should suit up for it,” I said.
   “Oh, man, wouldn’t that be awesome! He’d have a total cow!”
   “Tell him we’re running screens.” I cracked up at the thought of Justin’s face when he thought I’d be knocking him down on purpose.
   “Oh, man . . . You gotta show up, just for today! C’mon, it would so totally rock! Hey, by the way, my folks are having this thing, you know, after the game Friday, for all the players and their parents, the guy players. You want to come?”
   “All the guy players?”
   “Hey, cut me some slack.” He grinned. “It’ll be cool. I gotta go.” He dashed out the door like he’d keel over dead if he slowed down for just a second. Then he dashed back in: “And check out your locker!”
   “My locker?” But he was already gone.
   So, seeing as it looked like I was done with Mrs. Henning and her D.J.-is-not-a-juvenile-delinquent forms, I headed that way. Which I would have done anyway, of course, only now I was worried. I mean, I hadn’t checked it in more than a month. I didn’t think I’d left any food in there, but you never know. I kept my head down on the way there, trying to duck the Win questions, though once when I looked up I did notice a locker decked out in wrapping paper and balloons like it was a giant birthday present or something, done up the way the popular girls, the cheerleaders especially, do each other’s lockers sometimes.
   Then I did a double take, because it was my locker that was all done up. And people were pointing at it, grinning at each other, and a couple kids were staring at the pictures stuck all over the front, although as soon as they saw me coming the kids slunk away.
   I know all about the stuff done to lockers. Just a few months ago my best friend’s locker got trashed because some kids get a kick out of picking on kids who are a little bit different. And even though part of my brain was pointing out that it wasn’t graffiti, I still panicked. Because even though the gift wrap looked nice, who knew how mean it’d actually be?
   But here’s the thing: it really was gift wrap. Friendly gift wrap, not Happy Birthday or anything like that, or Welcome Baby! which Mom had to use for Christmas one year because we’d run out of Christmas wrapping paper and it was too late to buy more. And taped on top was a big sign that said WELCOME BACK! WE MISSED YOU! signed by all the girls on the basketball team.
   Other things were taped up as well, like a picture of me from last year before I had to quit the team, and basketball stickers. And right in the middle — maybe that’s why those kids had been staring — was a copy of that photograph of me from People magazine where I’m dribbling in to shoot and Brian has his arm around my waist. Which hadn’t been the best way to announce to the universe that Red Bend’s girl linebacker and the quarterback of our eternal archrival were kind of involved. Just looking at it now, my ears got hot. But someone —probably Kari Jorgensen, she’s so creative — had cut Brian out of the picture so it was just me, and then over my body where Brian’s arm had been she’d made a perfect little T-shirt out of paper and colored it in with my number 12, with “Red Bend” printed on it and everything. It was nicer looking than our real uniforms.
   Then that whole photo of me in my paper 12 jersey was stuck on top of another piece of paper — how long had this taken? — with just-as-nice lettering that said D.J. IS #1!!! Which when you think of it is a little dumb, because right below is me wearing #12. And D.J. IS #1!! was on the balloons too. Well. I stood there just staring, wondering how long they’d been planning this, probably coming in way early with the custodians to have it ready for me, girls like Kari who had so much important stuff to do and are pretty popular, not to mention just plain pretty. All that effort for me. No one had ever decorated a locker for me before. No one had ever singled me out like this, with pictures and balloons and announcements to the world that I’m number one.
   And then who should show up but Justin Hunsberger.
   “Hey,” he said.Which usually isn’t insulting, but it sounds really different coming from him.
   “Hey,” I said back, just as cold. Now what was I supposed to say? Sorry I missed the rest of football season just because I had to save my shoulder and my brother? Sorry for even trying out considering how you whined about me to anyone who would listen until pretty much the day I left? No, I don’t think so. Sorry’s out.
   Justin kicked at the floor. He was wearing a Red Bend Football T-shirt in case someone in the building by some freak of ignorance still didn’t know he played. “Hey,” he said again. “Your brother —”
   “He’s not walking yet. But thanks for asking.” Although I sure didn’t sound thankful.
   “No, that’s not . . . It’s just . . .” He looked up. “I’m praying for him, okay? I pray for him every day. He’s . . . he’s a really amazing guy.” He kicked the floor. “That’s all.”
   I swallowed. “Oh.”
   “Yeah. So. See you around.”
    “Yeah,” I said, wishing I had some idea what in the world to say other than that I actually wouldn’t be playing boys’ basketball, which I didn’t think had quite, you know, the right tone at this particular moment. But of course I couldn’t think of a thing.
   Justin nodded and headed down the hall.
   Of course then I thought of something. “I’ll tell him!” I called out. But I’m not sure Justin even heard me.
   I was still staring after him, wondering what the heck had just happened, when out of nowhere Beaner showed up again. This time at least he didn’t jump on me. He just put his arm around my shoulders in his buddy way.
   “Pretty awesome, huh?” he asked, studying my locker.
   “What? Um, yeah. It is.”
   “So you coming?” He squeezed my shoulder.
   “To what?”
   “To my party.” He sighed this huge sigh. “I can’t believe you forgot already. The parental units? Post-game? You’re coming?”
   “Beaner! You just asked. Give me a bit of time here.”
   He looked at the ceiling and whistled to himself. “Okay . . . Was that time enough?”
   Now he had me laughing. “No! This is my first day back — I’ll have a ton of homework —”
   “Homework, schmomework. This is a date, girlfriend.”
   “A date?” I grinned at the joke, even though he wasn’t grinning that way. “You betcha . . . Hey, my man!Wait up!” And with that he zoomed away. A date? Like—like what people in the movies do? What was he talking about?
   “Hey!” Beaner shouted. Far down the hall, he was holding himself up on two guys’ shoulders. “Don’t blow me off now! This is a date, you know!” Then he shot me a pretend lay-up and disappeared into the crowd.
   Everyone — everyone — in the hall heard him. Maybe everyone in the whole school. And every single one of them turned and looked straight at me.
   Double quick I spun away, my face burning five kinds of fire, and made a big project of opening my locker.
   Which was just wonderful considering I hadn’t been all that confident about the combination before this, and Beaner’s little announcement sure didn’t help any.
   I got it open, finally. The good news is that nothing smelled. It was just snapshots of Win and Curtis and Bill, and our good dog Smut with the slimy football she carries everywhere, and books I could have used in Minneapolis, and an old Red Bend Basketball sweatshirt that wasn’t even dirty.
   I should have been relieved, but I didn’t feel relief at all. Well, I was a little relieved my locker didn’t smell like a lab experiment. And it was nice to see those pictures I like so much, and my favorite sweatshirt, after six straight weeks of not seeing them once. But it wasn’t enough. Four snapshots and a sweatshirt weren’t nearly enough to balance out all this other weirdness.
   By which I mean: How are you supposed to hate a guy who prays for your family? How mind-blowing, how totally mind-blowing, is that?
   Not to mention the whole locker business. Don’t get me wrong: it was super nice of the team to spend all that time making my locker look like a homecoming parade. I should have been totally, 100% grateful. But now all around me I could hear kids laughing and whispering about it. About me. And now everyone would know where my locker was, and maybe even think about it —think about me — whenever they passed. Sure, I was stoked to be back for hoops season, and I know I’m a pretty big part of the team. But I’d never in a million years want anyone thinking I expected this sort of number-one treatment; that’s the last thing I wanted. I just wanted, you know, to play. The girls should have saved their wrapping paper and balloons and all their enthusiasm for someone else. Someone who didn’t want to trade it for a boring old anonymous life.
   Speaking of which, it’s also pretty hard to have a boring old anonymous life when your best guy friend in school decides to announce the two of you have a date.Which I’m not even going to get started on except to say WHAT THE HECK WAS BEANER THINKING? Meaning what was he thinking to be saying that in front of two hundred kids, and what was he thinking about us even dating, whatever a date with Beaner even means?
   That’s the thing.When I said that it sure felt good to be going back to school, I didn’t mean just going to school. I meant having everything go back to the way it used to be. The way it’s always been. With D.J. Schwenk in the background, just like always. In the background where I belong.
   But instead, it was the exact total opposite. Instead of being a nobody, now I was front and center.
   And let me tell you something. Front and center sucks.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 21 of 67 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    DJ Wins Again!

    DAIRY QUEEN and THE OFF SEASON were incredible, and now Catherine Gilbert adds a third book equally as amazing.

    FRONT AND CENTER is genuine sports fiction for teenage girls, but readers of all sorts would love it. DJ Schwenk has been on her high school boys football team and helped her brother back from a paralyzing sports injury, but nothing compares to the challenge she's up against in this book - finding a college. She is elligible for more than a few scholarships, thanks to her super basketball playing and coaching skills, and the pressure to find the right college is not easy. Throughout the process, DJ navigates good from bad, right from wrong, and still manages to hold it all together for a rewarding happy ending.

    Teens will love the conversational tone of the writing and will identify with DJ as she grows up and becomes wise about the world around her. Family and boyfriend issues are nothing new, but Murdock makes them feel unique with her characters and writing style.

    Let's see a book of DJ's first year in college!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013


    Loved it! One thing I wish the author had done is have D.J. and her parents figure out a way to raise more money for the farm by selling cheese or something, that storyline seemed incomplete to me and I think it could have been resolved fairly quickly. Wish she'd make another book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

    Life never seems easy for D. J. Schwenk. Her shoulder injury from football has healed nicely and basketball season is in full swing. That should make her exceedingly happy, but instead she feels the pressure mounting.

    This year the coach wants D. J. to develop her team leadership skills. He's riding her about being more vocal out on the court. Unfortunately, D. J. is not one to talk or draw attention to herself. Yes, she's a great player, but not in a take-charge-of-the-team sort of way. The coach is not only interested in improving her role on the team, but also in the fact that she needs to show that leadership to the college scouts attending almost every game she plays.

    There is even more pressure coming for D. J.'s brother, Win. The victim of a spinal cord injury in a college football game, he is learning how to adjust to life in a wheelchair. As part of his therapy, he seems to have made it his goal to get D. J. accepted into a Division I college program. He's arranging campus visits and demanding that she make phone calls to all the coaches who have sent her recruitment letters. Once again, her timid ways make these visits and phone calls very challenging.

    To top things off, D. J. is struggling with boyfriend issues. Her thoughts are filled with Brian and the great times they've shared. But he seems to want to keep their relationship out of the public eye, which makes D. J. think he's ashamed of her. When long-time friend and classmate, Beaner, approaches her with romance in mind, she decides maybe she should leave Brian behind. Her mind tells her that it's a good idea, but her heart tells her something different. She is torn between the two.

    FRONT AND CENTER is the final book in a trilogy by author Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Fans of DAIRY QUEEN and THE OFF SEASON will be sad to see D. J. move on, but hopefully, they'll be satisfied with the choices she makes as Murdock bids her farewell.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013


    I loved this series . It's amust read for all teenagers. I especially loved how the book showed that life has its battles and you have to fight through them. I encourage you to read this series. You'll love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

    The readers note

    This book was the best. If i could i would give this book 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars!

    But one thing i do ever so badly wish is that the athour would write a 4th book about D.J.'s life in collage and tell us all about how she ends up with or without Brian and if she does well at D-1 b-ball

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    Great book!

    Love the book and plot, but i'm so sad its over! I read the last two books in two days, loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    So sad its done.

    I cried at every part DJ did. It was sooo good. I'm sad its over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012


    This book inspired me to play guys football

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    I love the first one and i thought it was great so the other ones will prabaly be nice to 7.37 isn't that bad

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012


    I don't get it ? Do D.J. and Briain end up toogether. Please help!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012


    I have read all the books in the dairy queen series..... they are my fav books ever. Definetely a must read!

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Awesome Book

    I loved this book. The smaller issues, like with Beaner vs. Brian, were just as relatable as the fears of putting yourself out there and coping with pressure.

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  • Posted August 3, 2011

    Loved it!

    Great series and great ending. I wish it didnt have to end though.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    Big fan

    I love this book like the other two, but it is sad that it is the last book of the series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2010

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    Posted January 8, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 21 of 67 Customer Reviews

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