Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Review: The Off Season
The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Summary (from Booklist): D. J.'s junior year starts off promisingly: she has finally been accepted as a valuable player on the football team, and Brian Nelson, quarterback for a rival school, is still coming around to see her. Storm clouds gather, though, as her close friend is bullied for being gay, money problems on the farm increase, and an injury forces D. J. to choose between football and basketball, which could net her a college scholarship. She also begins to wonder why Brian makes out with her but never wants to take her anywhere. Then brother Win is seriously injured on the football field, forcing her to gain some much-needed perspective.
My thoughts: I don't often like sequels as much as their predecessors - I tend to fall hard and then judge the next one by that initial thrill. They usually pale in comparison, even if I still like them. But this one broke that trend, it was just as excellent as Murdock's Dairy Queen. She's just an astonishingly good writer, I can't even quite put my finger on why - everything's just right, the words, the characters, the story.
Having a soft spot for Minnesota, I loved that part of it took place there (even if the reason for it was tragic). DJ is just such a great girl, mainly because she's real. She's so self-conscious (often hilariously so) and she comes off as a very real teen, yet she manages to deal with great family hardship, even when she doesn't want to or thinks she can't.
A girl in my teen book club loves these books and I was so excited that she did - I love it when kids find these great books amidst the crappy ones. She's mainly in it for the making out with Brian scenes, but that's okay.
Murdock's realistic characters, rural setting, sports backdrop, and family struggles are an excellent antidote to the Hollywood Hills/Mean Girls genre of YA fiction that's all the rage at the moment.
(Sorry, this one's way overdue, I read it in the summer, yeesh.)