Title: Front and Center
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: Listening Library, 2010 (print version available from Graphia, 2009)
Narrator: Natalie Moore
**Possible spoilers follow in summary**
D.J. Schwenk is back again, this time looking forward to her basketball season in her junior year of high school. Things are getting sort of back to normal, at least, as back to normal as they can after her brother Win ended up in a wheelchair and with her mom with him in a rehab facility. But things quickly get hectic again, as D.J. not only has to deal with navigating high school, but also with worrying about college scouts, getting a basketball scholarship, and having a new boyfriend. Plus there's Brian Nelson, who keeps showing up out of nowhere, even though she is darn sure she's through with him. Right?
Again, Natalie Moore does a superb job narrating as D.J. in this final installment of the Dairy Queen trilogy. D.J. has more dealt to her in this novel, but instead of it focusing on how she deals with everyone else's problems, this plot focuses strictly on D.J. and how everyone is expecting so much of her when it comes to her basketball playing. She's an excellent player but is incredibly intimidated by Top Ten college ball, mostly of screwing it up and letting everyone down.
I was never sure what D.J. would decide when faced with complicated and difficult situations. She is so unused to be in the spotlight that she isn't sure how to react or what to choose, and I really felt for her. I wanted her to be happy but I also wanted her to make the right decision for her, and it was hard to tell what that was. Either way, I was rooting for her.
It's rare that I grow so attached to a group of characters. I felt like I wanted to be a part of the Schwenk family, even though it's made VERY clear that they have a lot of faults. I'm very sad that I won't be able to follow D.J. through her senior year and on to college. (Fingers crossed for another book!)
If you haven't read/listened to this trilogy, please do yourself a favor and do. There is humor, wonderful three-dimensional characters, great relationships and realistic everyday issues. Love love love it.
Disclosure: I got this audiobook from the library.