Monday, April 02, 2007
The Off Season
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. 2007. The Off Season.
The Off Season picks up roughly three days after the conclusion of Dairy Queen. D.J. Schwenk is about to start her junior year of high school. She's passed her sophomore English class--which was a threat hanging over her head in Dairy Queen. She's made the football team. Brian Nelson is talking to her again. She's made up with her friend, Amber, and even met her girlfriend, Dale. Everything is looking up. She even has a 'dreamy' sort of first date with Brian when they drive up to Minneapolis and hang out at the Mall of America. He treats her like a real princess. He buys her dinner, buys her a cell phone, pays to have her ears pierced, etc.
Thinking back, I can't remember ever being that happy, straight happy, like I was that day. I mean, I get excited enough watching sports and doing them, but it wasn't the same. Maybe you can understand the difference. (35)
...and then Brian all of a sudden pulled off into one of those little rest areas, the kind where there's always an eighteen-wheeler parked and a trash can. Although this rest area didn't have an eighteen-wheeler. He came around to my door and asked me to get out, and I did even though I was totally confused, and then right there with both of us standing next to the Cherokee he started kissing me, and oh boy... I have to hand it to him that he didn't even bring up the bloody-nose business because it wouldn't have set the mood so well, although even if the Cherokee exploded right before me, I think I wouldn't have noticed because this was real kissing. Movie kissing. And my whole body was on fire--maybe from the exploding Cherokee, I don't know, although I could feel that solidity right behind me and I needed it too, to push back against Brian. I don't know how long we stood there, but I was prepared to stay there forever (37-38).
But just a month later, everything has changed. It's one thing after another...until suddenly D.J.'s whole world is crashing down around her. Everything had been so perfect, so right, and now everything she has worked so hard for...is right out of her grasp. But D.J. is strong. She's strong, determined, and a fighter. This may not be the junior year of her dreams, but she's determined to make sense of the chaos and rebuild her life.
I hesitate to tell you any of the reasons why her world is falling apart. Just know this...it isn't because she broke a nail...it isn't because of something equally trivial or shallow. THE OFF SEASON is a serious novel; it's well written. The characters are authentic and memorable. If you didn't love D.J. before...you just might after reading THE OFF SEASON.
I liked Dairy Queen; I really liked it. But I loved The Off Season. It delves even deeper into the Schwenk family. You get to know even more about the family and how it works--how it functions: her relationship with her parents, her relationship with her brothers. Dairy Queen flirted with the idea of D.J. discovering who she is and what she's worth...but she really and truly gets it in THE OFF SEASON.
THE OFF SEASON releases in June 2007.