Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review of Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Front and Center. Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

I feel a little guilty reading these 2009 books when I should be frantically catching up on 2010. After all, the ALA award announcements are just a little more than a month away, and it sure is embarrassing not to have read the Newbery or Printz winners.

On the other hand, this title fairly leaped out at me from the library shelves. Having loved Dairy Queen and The Off Season, I couldn't believe I had missed the third in the trilogy. And having just read an interesting but rather grim zombie (er, I mean "undead") novel, I needed a bit of light and wonderful teen fiction.

D.J. is a junior at her small high school in a small Wisconsin town. When she isn't playing basketball, milking cows, missing her ex-boyfriend Brian, or agonizing about which college to go to, she's worrying about how her desire to be part of the background keeps making her unhappy. See, not only does it keep her from having fun when out with new friends, but it also means that all the big 10 universities that are courting her for their basketball teams are freaking her out. I mean - the pressure! People expect big stuff from D.J., and she doesn't want to let anyone down.

As her many fans know, D.J. is a straightforward jock of a girl who would much rather shoot a jillion hoops than get all introspective or angsty. But life is complicated, and so D.J. has to do some deep thinking about herself and other people - and it's so fun to watch her figure stuff out. She is self-deprecating, and yet she manages to express herself well in a folksy, simple, yet affecting way.

My ONLY complaint about the book is that the photo on the jacket looks nothing like my idea of D.J. But that's a tiny quibble. If you're seeking realistic YA fiction with a strong, unusual, and extremely likable heroine, this is an excellent trilogy. If you listen to the audiobook editions with narrator Natalie Moore, you're in for a treat - she does a fine Midwestern accent.

Highly recommended for ages 12 and up.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh! I love this series and I didn't realize another installment had hit the shelves! I guess it goes on my ever-growing must-read list.