Okay, since I haven't been on here in, ahem, 10 days (gulp), I'm offering you not one, not two, but THREE gems of the week. That's because they're all by the same author and she considers them a trilogy. And I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to the author yesterday at a writing conference, SCBWI's Fall Philly. Catherine Gilbert Murdock is the author of the Young Adult novels Dairy Queen, The Off Season and the newest, Front and Center (all published by Houghton Mifflin) and she revealed to us at the conference that she never intended to write a trilogy. She started with a stand-alone book (Dairy Queen), which, believe it or not, came to her in a dream, and fans wrote to her, begging for sequels.
If you read the trilogy one right after the other, you'll almost think you're reading one continuous book. The story in book two continues right where book one ended, and book three follows immediately after book two.
What's so great about the D.J. Schwenk trilogy? The voice. By far, the voice. It really sounds like a sixteen-year-old girl who lives on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and likes sports. And she's a great character, funny and talented as all get out, but so normal and down to earth she doesn't even realize she's talented. And as someone who was painfully shy throughout adolescence (okay, I admit it, even into adulthood) I was most affected by her shyness. This girl is real. You'll come away from these books with a sense that D.J. could be your friend, or your neighbor or that tall girl who sits next to you in Math class.
And whether she's trying to save the family farm in Dairy Queen, trying to save a family member who's seriously injured in The Off Season or trying to decide between colleges -- and boys -- in Front and Center, she'll make you smile. I'm not usually a sports fan but I found myself cheering at the endings of all three books. Winners all.