Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication date: 4th June 2007
My rating: 5 stars
Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She’s in eleventh grade, finally. After a rocky summer, she’s reconnecting in a big way with her best friend, Amber. She’s got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson, who’s cute and popular and smart but seems to like her anyway. And then there’s the fact she’s starting for the Red Bend High School football team—the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin, probably. Which just shows you can’t predict the future. As autumn progresses, D.J. struggles to understand Amber, Schwenk Farm, her relationship with Brian, and most of all her family. As a whole herd of trouble comes her way, she discovers she’s a lot stronger than she—or anyone—ever thought.
The Off Season was a massive step up from Dairy Queen. I was a big fan of the first book Dairy Queen, but here Murdock just managed to take it a whole another notch, she had me bawling my eyes out every other page, had me snort laughing and shattered my heart into a million pieces.
After a topsy turvy couple of months, D.J. finally seems to be enjoying life, she’s line backer for the school football team, with her on the team Red Bend have a real shot at taking the title. Things are also better at school, D.J.’s on top of her classes; she’s also having fun spending time with Brian the Hawley quarter back and things at home have calmed down too. But then D.J.’s put to the test when things hit the fan, it’s not that one thing goes wrong, but everything seems to come tumbling around her. Truly testing her strength as a person.
I connected to D.J. in Dairy Queen, but in The Off Season she really shone through, her strength of character was tested to the max. I really felt for her as she’d been through so much already in Dairy Queen to get as far as she had, only for everything to be snatched away from her in the cruellest way.
The Off Season did have a more sorrowful feel to it, whereas Dairy Queen was more light and bubbly, the Schwenk family was pushed to the limits. I enjoyed getting to know the rest of the family more in this instalment, with Bill and Win away all the time, it was interesting seeing what they were really like after we’d heard so much about them through D.J. they both managed to add so much more craziness to the mix. Once again the main problem in the Schwenk family was their lack of communication. In several situations by not speaking up D.J. found herself in more trouble; I just wished she could have saved herself a lot of heartache and problems if she only spoke up when necessary.
Curtis, D.J.’s brother really surprised me in this book, although we didn’t get to see much of him as much as I’d hoped, he really brought a smile to my face in his brief appearances. Once again sport played a major part in this book, but I enjoyed the focus on it this time around a lot more, whereas before it was about the winning and team spirit, this side showed how much sport was really important and played and central part to a lot of the Schwenk member’s lives. The way this one part brought the Schwenk family, friends and community together when they needed them most brought so many tears to my eyes.
Leanne, Keertana and I had actually planned to read The Off Season together, as we’d had so much fun with Dairy Queen. But me being the great read-along partner that I am accidently zoomed ahead and ended up finishing the book when I was only meant to read a few chapters. This goes to show just how much a marvellous series this is and how much you’re missing out on if you haven’t picked this series up yet. Books which keep you enthralled that you’ve lost a sense of everything around you (my sister did start shouting at me by one point as I’d ignored her for so long) are the best gems you can find!
Bring on book three Front and Center. And this time I promise I will try to read this with Keertana and Leanne.