It's the summer before her junior year, and hardworking, athletic D.J. Schwenk is pretty much singlehandedly running her parents' rural Wisconsin dairy farm after her dad is injured. Meanwhile, her two older brothers, former high school football stars, aren't talking with anyone else in the family, her dad mopes around the house, her little brother won't speak at all, and her mom is spending long hours at work to avoid all of the issues at home. On top of everything, a good family friend who happens to be the football coach at a rival high school asks D.J. to help train lazy rich kid Brian over the summer. Her family has always lived and breathed football, and D.J. is used to playing with her older brothers, so she doesn't feel like she can say no. To her surprise, as she and Brian train together and begin to talk about themselves and their lives, she finds herself falling for him. Even more surprising, she loves playing the game so much that she begins to entertain a crazy idea of playing on her own high school's football team, but she's got a long, uphill battle ahead if she's going to make that happen, one that might jeopardize her burgeoning relationship with Brian.

GREAT book. I know absolutely nothing about football or dairy farms, so I can't say how accurate that part of the story was, but it all rang completely true for me. Besides, although there's definitely plenty of football, that's just a means to tell the story, not the story itself. The real meat of the book follows D.J.'s thoughts as she tries to come to terms with her own position in the world, as the kid sister of two brothers who cast long shadows, and as the glue that's holding her struggling family together. I loved D.J.'s voice - matter-of-fact, keenly observant, and above all, hilarious. I didn't want to leave her behind when the book ended. Luckily, it looks like there's a sequel, which I can't wait to read.

1 Comment:

  1. lady-schrapnell said...
    The Off-Season is just as good - bleaker for a long stretch and not as funny, but so well done. There's to be a third too - yay!

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