Here are ten words I never thought I'd be saying...
Dairy Queen and The Off Season.
D.J. Schwenk, our heroine, is excited to be going back to school. (No, it's not August or September.) But she's been away from home tending to one of her older brothers, Win, after he was seriously injured playing college football. What excites D.J. most--besides returning to a familiar routine--is the fact that it is basketball season. She loves the game, she does. And when she's not worried about pleasing her coach and her family and her teammates and herself and any college coaches or scouts that may be watching her every little move, she's quite good at it. But it's not without pressure. For her coach--wanting only what is best for her--is encouraging her to start looking ahead to college, to start calling different coaches at different universities and seeing what scholarship possibilities there may be for her when the time comes. Yes, she's only a junior, but the time to act is now. If she puts it off until next year, well, chances are that there will be fewer opportunities. But what bothers D.J, what bothers Coach K, what bothers her brother, Win, is D.J.'s inability to vocalize on the court. She sees what needs to be done, but she doesn't speak up. She has all the skills needed to be a great player, but there is something holding her back. And the sooner she finds her voice, the better.
D.J. doesn't like being the 'front and center' of attention. She doesn't like the way one of her best friends, Beaner, is looking at her. He wants more from her than friendship. And while part of her wants a distraction from her heartbreak--her disappointing relationship with Brian Nelson--another part of her knows that she could never, ever feel anything close to romantic love for Beaner. He's great for laughs, great for hanging out with, he's a good guy, a nice guy, but. He's no Brian. Now she tries to talk herself into the relationship, using his very differences from Brian to show that he has to be a better match for her. But still. D.J. knows that it won't really work out.
I loved all three books in the series. I loved D.J. I loved her family. I loved how these novels were about D.J. finding herself and getting to be more comfortable in her own skin. Each book we see a vulnerable D.J. get just a little bit stronger, a little bit better, a little more confident. These novels have heart. They may be about sports--football and basketball--but they are character-driven too!
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews