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A Reader of Fictions: Audiobook Review: Dairy Queen

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Audiobook Review: Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen
Dairy Queen, Book 1

Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Narrator: Natalie Moore
Duration: 6 hrs, 7 mins
Publisher: Listening Library
Read: June 17-23, 2013
Source: Library

Description from Goodreads:
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.

Though I haven't had much chance to reread since I began blogging, it's one of my favorite things to do. Is there anything better than revisiting an old favorite? For me, the benefits are myriad, since I generally can't remember much after just one read of a book, so I can be surprised and delighted just like the first time, implant the book in my memory, and probably also notice awesomeness I'd missed before. Of course, in some cases, I like to reread books that I didn't enjoy before, because they can really surprise you, like Dairy Queen.

I'm fairly certain I've actually read Dairy Queen twice before, once in college and once in grad school. Though I have little memory of it, I have a distinct recollection of having checked out the paperback during a break from undergrad. I don't think I liked it much, and I've only just recalled that. Anyway, in grad school, I had to read Dairy Queen for my young adult services course. I did not care for it.

My issues with Dairy Queen were partly context and partly format. See, I came to Dairy Queen that second time with certain expectations, because we were assigned the book as part of the LGBT unit, which included one other book Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You. I was pissed off at this book and at the professors for not choosing a single book with a gay or lesbian protagonist, though the protagonist in Cameron's novel thinks he might be gay. Though there are some LGBT themes in Dairy Queen, it's not an LGBT book overall, and I resented the book for that, even if it wasn't fair.

However, I also remember being unimpressed by the writing style. D.J.'s not the sort of girl to use really complex sentences or have a huge vocabulary. Simple sentences just generally do not work for me as a writing style, so I found the book frustrating. Switching to the audiobook format allowed me to really appreciate how well the writing fits the character of D.J. Natalie Moore does an amazing job bringing the character alive, and has the full on Wisconsin accent, which is incredibly entertaining.

So far as the plot goes, I really remembered nothing, except cows and football, which are certainly the most obvious points. The book being about football probably didn't help us get along any either, but Miranda Kenneally has helped me get over my distaste for anything about sports. The football in the book really isn't overwhelming, definitely taking a back seat to D.J.'s journey for self-respect and interpersonal relations.

D.J. feels dumb and overwhelmed. She flunked sophomore English, because she was so busy running the family farm after her dad injured himself using the manure spreader. D.J. is so young, but she has all of this pressure and her whole family relies on her to keep the farm going. She has to give up all of her sports to run the farm, but her brother Curtis doesn't. The whole thing feels so unfair, but D.J. is a real champ about it.

Then Brian Nelson shows up, sent by the coach of D.J.'s school's rival ream, who happens to be a family friend. The coach wants Brian to help out on the farm and stop being so stuck up, and eventually D.J. begins coaching Brian at football. They also go from hating one another to really getting along, able to talk about things that D.J.'s family never discusses. Her affinity for Brian grows into a crush and also inspires her to confront family issues, like talking to her estranged brothers, engaging with her silent younger brother, and gaining more respect from her parents.

Romance is really kept on the back burner, though it's a thread running through the book. D.J.'s desire for romance sort of comes up against her increasing desire to play football, which both isn't girly and will inevitably lead to complications with her burgeoning feelings for Brian. D.J. also has to deal with the realization that her friend Amber is a lesbian and has sort of been dating D.J., though D.J. had no idea. Up to this summer with Brian, she'd really never given romance a thought and all of this takes her time to process.

Actually, that's one of the best things about Dairy Queen. D.J. really does need time to think through things. She lacks the quick wit of a lot of heroines. Brian confronts her about always forcing him to give more in conversations by remaining silent, and she explains that she was merely trying to work out a response. D.J.'s brain works a bit differently from mine, and it's always interesting to get to be in someone else's head to gain some empathy.

The narrative of the book is purportedly an assignment D.J. turns in to overturn her failure in English, since the teacher lets her make it up. When she explained that at the end, I laughed a lot, because this poor teacher. She asks for a paper on what D.J. did over the summer or something like that, and the girl turns in, instead of ten pages or so, three hundred. Happy grading!

Many thanks to Renae of Respiring Thoughts and Wendy Darling of The Midnight Garden for convincing me that Dairy Queen deserved another shot. I'm excited to listen to the audiobooks for the next two books!

Sum It Up with a GIF:

Rating: 4/5

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Blogger Lili said...

I tried reading this book because of all the praise I've heard in conjunction to it and, like you, the writing style frustrated me. I may have to give it another chance though via audiobook! I try to avoid these things, but they'd be perfect for traveling and such. Great review!

July 27, 2013 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I remember liking this book when we read it for class, but I have absolutely no memory regarding what it was about. haha! I think it's time for me to re-read it, too :) I'm glad you liked it better the third time around.

July 27, 2013 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Audra said...

HA -- well, good luck? Can't wait to see what you think third time around...

July 27, 2013 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Castle gif! Love Beckett. As far as the book, I don't think that I have ever heard of this one. How is that possible? Glad it worked before for you this time!

July 27, 2013 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Nori said...

I remember loving it in that class. But, I totally understand your frustration at having this book in that unit. I was actually just thinking of this book because I just read Catching Jordan, and I couldn't help making a lot of comparisons. Both main characters seemed rather similar. I want to read the next two books too.

July 27, 2013 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Kimberly @ Midnight Book Girl said...

First off, I would also (unfairly) hold it against the book if I was doing a unit on LGBT and the book assigned didn't have an LGBT main character. That's a poor choice on the teachers part :(

I love reading books that have sports in it so this sounds awesome. Plus I think it takes place in Wisconsin and I'm from Wisconsin and I love reading books that take place in Wisconsin (and of course picking it apart when they get locations wrong and the like lol).

July 28, 2013 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger fakesteph said...

That is why you put page limits on everything. I think I might actually enjoy this one... maybe. I'm at least interested in the narrator. And it sounds like your YA class was pretty poorly put together. I can understand one book that has LGBT themes instead of protagonist, but BOTH??? There are SO MANY good ones. :/

July 28, 2013 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

Perfect GIF is perfect.

I feel like I might have read like the sequel to this in high school, Wurst Case Scenario? Ohhh wait, I just goodreads-ed that and apparently that book also takes place in Wisconsin but is by a different author, so omg I have actually not read this.

I'm glad I got the audio with my credit. I have a few listens to get through but will try to listen to Dairy Queen soon, as I like it when narrators go full on with the accents.

July 28, 2013 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Judith said...

I like rereading a lot and especially if I end up thinking liking the book more than I did before (which rarely happens tbh). I have not read this book though I know that Renae loves it, but I'm curious after your review. I'm not sure if I could relate to D.J., but she does sound like an interesting character. She sounds very different (and also a lot younger?) than most FMCs which I like. I might even have to try this as my first ever audiobook!

July 29, 2013 at 5:04 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

I'm glad you liked this one more upon a re-re-read. lol Lori over at Pure Imagination has been trying to get me to read this one for forever, but I just never seem to find the time. It sounds really cute, though, and I think the protag sounds really interesting!

July 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh good, past self wasn't just a close-minded jerk. The writing really annoyed me way back when, so thank goodness for audiobooks!

July 29, 2013 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, I know I was like the only one who didn't like it when we read it. :-p

July 29, 2013 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I think this was the third time. lol.

July 29, 2013 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, that happens more with backlist books, I think.

July 29, 2013 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

That class was SO poorly run. Bleh. So was the whole program, though. I don't think the characters are all that similar, but it's been a while since I read CJ.

July 29, 2013 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I mean, it may not be fair, but ugh, not a good context.

It totally does take place in Wisconsin, and the narrator does the accent! It's so funny!

July 29, 2013 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Page limits? I don't understanding. It was very poorly put together. I think they'd been using the same syllabus for ages or something. I don't know.

July 29, 2013 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh, the assignment. DUH. *thunks forehead*

July 29, 2013 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Why thank you.

Nope, haha, different book.

Dude, I think you will love this, because it's like Catching Jordan, only she's not rich when she accepts the scholarship, so yes. Also, accent!

July 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, it's awesome when I've gained something from the experience, like love. Sometimes I still feel pretty much the same (not favorable) and it's a bummer. I don't really relate to her at all, because she's so different from me, but I do end up quite liking her.

July 29, 2013 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Me too! It's nice when that happens. Super cute! The audio's great.

July 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Agreed. Re-reading books is just such a nice thing to do, and I like going in already knowing what happens because it makes the whole reading experience a bit more relaxing, I guess?
I just read Dairy Queen for the first time and really liked it. I did have to first accept the fact that D.J. is certainly not your typical book-smart, quick-thinking protagonist, but ultimately I think that made the book more memorable and better. I'm glad you were able to enjoy reading this book that much better this time around, Christina!

July 29, 2013 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, well, that is true when I reread certain books, but generally I don't go in knowing too much, because my memory is horrible. I really only remembered that DJ was a farm girl.

I do think that DJ being so atypical made the book better, but it's also why I had to do the audio to enjoy it. Her simple sentences made me crazy when they were on the page.

July 30, 2013 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I have been wanting to get the audiobook of this. I think I would really like it. It does sound like a book I might not like as much actually reading it, but listening to it would be good.

July 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM  

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