When I listened to this book on CD I didn’t realize it was a sequel. The Off Season is the sequel to The Dairy Queen, by Catherine Murdock. Murdock’s follow up book can be read without reading the first, which is a good thing, since I’d already started. There are a few references to the first book, but not so many that the reader gets lost.
The Off Season is about a girl in Minnesota, who lives on a dairy farm and is great at sports, especially basketball and boy’s football. She caused controversy by joining the team, but they’ve since grown to appreciate her for her skill, and value her as a teammate. Then she gets injured on the field, and the doctor tells her playing out the season could ruin her chances to play basketball. She chooses to quit the team, because she needs the scholarship from basketball in order to go to college. Coming from a poor family whose dairy farm is suffering, she can’t afford to chance losing a scholarship. It’s sad because the girl, DJ, loves to play football, and is ridiculed by the team and her classmates for being a quitter. She’s also got a quasi romantic interest in the rival school’s quarter back which causes major drama between the two schools.
Add this to her family’s financial stress, plus her mom’s thrown her back out, and all of a sudden it seems the world is on DJ’s shoulders. She worries about how the bathroom faucets leak, about how they never seem to have enough money, and all of the things a teenage girl shouldn’t have to worry about. Their family can’t talk about their feelings, and no one seems to be able to step up when things get rough.
Then the unthinkable happens-her brother Win, a star college football player, gets hurt badly on the field, and the family turns to DJ for support. There is such an amazing level of depth in this book that I really didn’t expect when I picked it up off the shelf. Plus, the book on CD is read by a woman with a Minnesota accent, which really made me feel like DJ came to life. There was more than one chapter that brought me to tears. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s ever loved sports, or who has a family that has trouble communicating. Now I need to go out and find The Dairy Queen, just to fill in the gaps.