Sixteen year-old D.J. Schwenk sure is. She’s practically running her family’s dairy farm in Wisconsin while her dad is recovering from surgery, her older brothers are off playing college football, and her mom is too busy with her jobs at the local elementary school. Her only help is her younger brother Curtis, who is often too busy with his own athletics or driving their dad around to help out. Plus, he rarely talks, so he’s not much company anyway.
She begins to think that her life, and the lives of some of her family and friends, is very similar to the life of a cow. They do the same thing, day in and day out, being herded along in the crowd to daily life.
When Brian, the quarterback for the rival high school’s football team shows up to help out, D.J. is shocked. Eventually, she becomes his personal football trainer, only to realize that she wants to break the mold and try out for her own school’s football team, all while falling for Brian. No surprise, D.J. makes the team, but she never got the chance to tell Brian – and when he finds out, he is very angry…he even sues the school! To make matters worse, her best friend makes a shocking confession and D.J. can’t (or won’t) go to her for support.
Will D.J. step it up and be a vital team player as they battle it out against Brian’s team? Will she come to terms with her parents and learn to balance her life? Most importantly, will D.J. break the mold and make her life worth more than a cow’s?
D.J. finds her identity in this coming of age story and realizes that she does not have to follow the crowd. All while proving that girls can be stronger, faster, and more determined that a lot of the boys!
What I thought: I love this book.
DJ is such a strong female character who is NOT your frilly "I gotta have the latest clothes and most popular boyfriend" kind of girl. She is discovering herself while pulling her family through a difficult time. The sequel, The Off Season, is great too. (Watch for my review of that book coming very soon.)
This book is appropriate for the middle to high school crowd, and while girls will probably be drawn to it more than guys, I think if they give it a chance-the guys would like it too.
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