Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Catherine Murdock and the Dairy Queen Series

Robin here with my favorite sporty girl read for launch month. I have many favorite sporty reads, but the one that rose to the top, like the cream in those cows she milks twice a day, is Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock.
Book Blurb:
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.

Although the author, Catherine Murdock, doesn't play football-or any sports involving balls, for that matter, she is an athlete in her own right racing in triathlons like Sporty Girl Books own Anna Boll. We weren't able to interview her personally, but below are a few exerpts from her interview coutesy of Houghton Mifflin

How did you come up with the idea for this book?
It always sounds goofy, but I really did have a dream about a girl playing college football against a boy she loves passionately. When I woke up, my first thought was "What an amazing premise for a story!" Followed by "Babe, you don't know one thing about football." But that kernel stayed with me, just kept growing in me for days, as I thought about it and worked it – dream or no, the story idea was just a lump, and I had to do a lot of shaping. I immediately tossed the college notion – that was ridiculous – and I spent hours trying to figure out where to place the story... finally came up with Wisconsin. ... Then of course I had to develop the characters . . . The heart of the story, its essential climax, if you will, remains this dream-moment, when D.J. looks across the football scrimmage at Brian. All my work went into building up to that eye contact, which ultimately was only a couple of sentences, but I had to make it as real, as full of emotion, as I could. Hence the first twenty-eight chapters.

You don't skirt around the complicated relationship D.J. has with Amber.No, although it's not like I'm breaking new ground. I knew from the beginning that I'd have to address homosexuality at some point. Writing a story about a large, strong, assertive girl playing the hyper-masculine sport of football really brings that issue to the fore. But – given the inspirational dream I'd had – I very much wanted D.J. to be straight, and I loved the contrast between the "butch jock" stereotype being forced on her and her own passionate feelings for Brian. In a way, she's forced to break just as many boundaries in her yearnings for a handsome, popular boy as Amber is in her yearnings for D.J. That said, I didn't originally intend for Amber to be gay. But, again, I really felt D.J. needed to become increasingly isolated over the course of the summer, even from her best friend, and this seemed like an good way to develop her estrangement.

My Take:
From its opening line, DJ's voice pulled me in.

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

Catherine Murdock not only nailed this voice, but she also created a character I believed in, and more than that, one I ached for. Life and farming and Brian and being the only daughter didn't make life easy for DJ. I still can't believe the author never played football or worked on a dairy farm. She knows how to do her research, but then she does have a PhD.

One of my favorite movies growing up was Quarterback Princess. I'd never heard of a girl playing football in high school. I wanted to play football so bad after that (my parents squashed that one though). Reading Dairy Queen brought back so many of the same emotions of girls being girls, but being tough, able to do hard things, and keep up with the boys. I hope you'll give DQ a try.

For our mega launch giveaway (see the sidebar) I'm allowing my winner to choose either one of Catherine Murdock's DQ books or her newest book Heaven Is Paved with Oreos (delivered on its release day: 9-3-13). While not technically a DQ book, it is a companion novel.

Thanks for stopping by Sporty Girl Books. Have you read Catherine Murdock? Do you enjoy DJ's voice as much as I do? What's your favorite sporty read?


  1. I accidentally came across Dairy Queen during one of many trips to the bookstore. :) D.J. was such a relatable character. I loved her voice & could relate to her struggles. This series is one of my favorites.

  2. I haven't read any sporty girl books but this one sounds good! Great give away :)

  3. This one sounds very cute. I have to think about the sporty book thing...does Hunger Games count? Lol.

  4. Dairy Queen is my favorite YA Sporty Girl book as well. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and her interview. I also remember watching Quarterback Princess over and over as a kid. Maybe we should do a post on our favorite Sporty Girl movies?

    1. I thought I was the only person who remembered Quarterback Princess-glad to know I'm not alone;)

  5. Great mention of your favorite sporty girl book, Robin. Sounds super good! I can't think of any sporty girl books I've read (unless I count a couple awesome manuscripts from my CPs). ;-) Looks like I need to start reading more!

  6. I don't know if I have read a sporty girl book. I might need to! I'm with Ilima though, maybe Hunger Games? You know, for the archery.

    I'm going to have to check out Dairy Queen.

  7. I don't think I've ever read a sporty girl book. If Hunger Games counts, I'm in on that one. But this makes me want to look into them :)

  8. Last week Karen Day suggested to read this book, so I went to the library and read some chapters. I like D.J. being strong and vulnerable, but not so much the rural setting and the slow start. The so called "twist" with Amber reminds me parts in my YA fiction about a girl playing soccer, in a big city setting. Mostly I enjoyed how the author wrote the many thoughts of D.J. and getting into her head. I guess young readers with their own life experience can connect better than adults. Thanks Robin for posting about this book.

  9. If you're looking for more Sporty Girl Books, check out our reading list! http://sportygirlbooks.blogspot.com/p/books-for-teens.html

  10. I'm still cracking up with all the Hunger Games references. Thanks Ilima for getting that ball rolling-Katniss is definitely an athlete. Maybe we'll feature tough females in fantasy/dystopian novels sometime in the future. Another of my favorites on football is Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally.

  11. If there are sporty book newbies, I totally recommend the Dairy Queen audio book which made me fall in love with main character, D.J. Schwenk. The voice actress is amazing. She completely nails that Wisconsin accent. I understand that Gilbert was a screen writer so the trilogy worked well with the three-act structure she was used to writing.

  12. Dairy Queen. So many people recommended it to me, so I had to read it!

  13. I haven't heard of this series, but it sounds interesting. I can't imagine being a girl who wants to play football, just cause football is so rough. Any girl who does though must be pretty tough.

  14. I played Ultimate Frisbee once upon a time, and I was the only girl. And I thought that was rough. I can't imagine playing football. #wimp Defninitely need to add Dairy Queen to the tbr list! :) Thanks for the interview and tip!