Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. (Grades 7+)
Ohhhhh DJ Schwenk, how I love thee.
So, in case you weren't aware, the third DJ Schwenk book comes out in October. MARK YOUR CALENDAR. Because if you love DJ like I do, you won't want to miss it.
Front and Center takes up right where The Off Season leaves off. (And, just to warn you, since this is the third book in the trilogy there might be some spoilers for earlier books.)
DJ's returning to school just in time for basketball season and the pressure is ON. She's got college coaches coming to her game, the farm's losing money, and her brother Win is getting extremely involved in her college search. Like, extremely involved. Like, paralyzing-DJ-with-the-thought-of-disappointing-him involved.
And, well, you know how DJ does with pressure.
She tends to freeze up.
Everyone's telling her she's good enough to play Division I college basketball. But can she handle it? Can she even get into college at all?
And don't even mention the boy troubles. DJ's friend Beaner starts to show some interest, but Brian keeps popping back into DJ's head. What's a girl to do?
I'm really glad I went back and reread Dairy Queen and The Off Season, not only to refresh myself on what had happened to DJ and her pals, but because they're fantastic and it reminded me how much I love them. As I previously posted, I listened to the audiobook of Dairy Queen, which is completely fabulous.
DJ Schwenk is one of the most unique and interesting protagonists in YA literature. I love that she's a real girl. She freezes up under pressure. She's not always witty with a quick, sarcastic comeback. She's a little more like the rest of us, thinking of smart responses three days after the argument is over.
I'm not saying that I didn't want to shake her* periodically throughout Front and Center. But that's actually one of the things I love about these books - DJ is so real to me that I actually felt like I could reach into the pages and give her a (much needed) hug.
What can I say? If you haven't read Dairy Queen, I must demand that you do so at once. And if you have read Dairy Queen and The Off Season, I'm sorry to say that you'll have to wait 'til October for this third installment, but mark it down because you won't want to miss it.
Head over to Jen Robinson's Book Page because she shares my DJ love (and because her review is actually, like, a review instead of just a big love letter to DJ Schwenk).
Full disclosure: review copy provided by publisher, Houghton Mifflin.
*Or maybe prescribe her some Xanax