Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Ages 12 & up)


This final installment in the "Dairy Queen" trilogy kicks off with Wisconsin junior D.J. Schwenk back at school, having spent several weeks away helping big brother, Win, with his rehabilitation. She's catching up with classes and best friend Amber (also newly returned). D.J.'s excited and nervous for basketball season, which might score her a much-desired college scholarship and a less-desired position literally calling the shots on court. Her ex, Brian, is neither out of sight nor off her mind. But reluctantly famous D.J., who generally craves anonymity, wants a boyfriend who acknowledges her in public. Enter energetic friend Beaner, an attention magnet interested in actual dating. When recruitment letters pour in, talented athlete D.J. feels the weight of obligations and expectations (yet again) from well-meaning family, friends, recruiters, coaches, and from herself. Will she be ruled by fear or will she step up and make the choices, whether between colleges or guys, that'll make her happiest? The self-conscious teen is socially anxious, hyper aware, and cleverly observant. Her fans won't be disappointed, but new readers may occasionally feel out of the loop, compelled to read the prequels for a more invested experience. Fortunately, Murdock successfully integrates fresh trials and pressures, well-developed primary and likable peripheral characters, and amusing introspection into the back-story. Occasional doormat D.J. is ultimately a responsible, realistically flawed, funny, endearing, and strong heroine worth rooting for whether on the court or on the page.

Author (and mom) Catherine Gilbert Murdock was featured as one of our Celeb Spot parents in a previous issue of the newsletter. Check out her responses to our Q&A here

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