Published in 2009. 256 pages.
First sentence: Here are ten words I never thought I'd be saying ...
Last sentence: Thank you.
What I thought: I fell in love with D.J. Schwenk in Dairy Queen, and in The Off-Season I watched her mature as she dealt with some serious situations. Front and Center provides another chapter to her life - as she returns to school for the basketball season and makes some decisions about her future.
I read the entire book on New Year's Day and enjoyed every minute of it. I can't resist a good girls' basketball story - and to have one with D.J. in the starring role (literally and literary-ly) was just perfect!
Two favorite passages:
It had been a ton of fun, I decided as I lay in bed that night. But if it was so fun, why all of a sudden did I feel so sad? Because, I realized, figuring it out at last, as great as the singing and goofing off and popcorn and snowballs had been, and the kissing, I would have traded it all, without a single speck of regret, for five more minutes of mucking out the barn with Brian.
Still, I couldn't get over Dad calling those farmers. People might think helping is hard, but really that's the easy part; just look how good it makes people feel. Look how happy all those Red Bend ladies were about chipping in. It's the asking that's so painful. It takes real courage, real strength, to say you're not strong enough to do it alone. [p. 196]
What I wish: This is the third book of the Dairy Queen trilogy. I wish it weren't over. I wish that I could hear more from D.J. After all, she's still got senior year ... and then college.