Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

DairyQueenTitle: Dairy Queen

Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 274

Rating: DNF – But It’s Complicated

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

I wasn’t really interested in reading this book. It was about a girl on a farm and it involved football – those are two things I’m just not that interested in reading about. I saw some really good reviews of it, though, so I figured I should give it a shot. Of course, I had no way of knowing that this book would leave me feeling so conflicted, even after I decided to put the book aside.

The Beginning

From the very beginning, I wasn’t that interested. The narrative style – which was very conversational – was an interesting approach, but narrator D.J. just wasn’t the type of person I wanted to listen to, apparently. I had trouble connecting with her – she seemed like a genuine person, but she wasn’t the type of person I was interesting in reading about, which made me unsure about this book from the very beginning.

The Reasons to Keep Reading

There were reasons that I wanted to keep reading, though. For example, there’s a big family drama involving a secret that D.J. continually refers to but won’t tell us about, and I desperately wanted to know what had happened. I wanted to see what would happen with their family and if things would get better with D.J. I wanted to know why D.J.’s friend is mentioned in the summary and what was going on with her. There were multiple things mentioned in the summary and at the beginning of the book that I wanted to know about.

The Reasons to DNF

Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to stick around to discover these things. The narrative style wasn’t working for me and I was frustrated with the whole “big secret that the protagonist knows but won’t tell the audience about and tries to amp up the drama surrounding it” trope, which made me want to DNF rather than keep reading to find out what would happen. I wasn’t interested in reading about football training and taking care of the farm. It’s not that those are bad things to have in a book or anything, but it simply wasn’t interesting to me, and it didn’t seem fair that I was forcing myself through this book – and it didn’t seem really fair to the book either, because I was forcing myself through a book that I would probably give a lower rating than it might even deserve simply because it wasn’t the type of book that I was interested in.

The Pressure to Keep Reading

Now, before I talk about this, I want to make it clear that no one was actually pressuring me to keep going. There wasn’t anyone, either in person or online, telling me that I just had to finish this, that DNFing it would be an awful idea, or anything like that. I had this up on Goodreads and all that of course, but no one was adding their wanted or unwanted opinion while I was reading this book.

That being said, though, I did feel like I was almost being pressured to finish this book without anyone actually, actively doing that. When I first started reading this book, I knew that there were some good reviews from people I respected, so there was a little pressure because I was worried that I wouldn’t like it and it would feel like it was my fault almost, if that makes sense? Then, the further I got into it without being nearly as interested as I wanted to be, the more I felt that pressure. Then, when I was really close to DNFing this book, I went onto Goodreads to check and see if my Goodreads friends and people I was following had given it good reviews – and almost everyone had given this book 4 stars or higher. Well, that just upped the pressure – it made me feel like it was my fault for not liking this book, and like I had to keep reading it in order to give the book its fair due.

Why I Ultimately DNFed

Finally, though, I decided to DNF it. This is probably one of the most difficult books for me to DNF. I was over 80 pages into the book, so nearly a third of the way through, and there were some reasons I was interested in it, but ultimately I was forcing myself to read it, and that wasn’t what I wanted to do. As I already said, I knew that this book probably wouldn’t get a very high rating from me simply because it wasn’t the type of book that seemed to interest me as much as it should, so it seemed best for me and the book to just set it aside and say “It’s not you, it’s me, really.”

In Conclusion…

So, I don’t think this is a bad book. I ended up skimming parts of it and read the interview with the author that was in the back of my book, and it was one of the reasons I was still a bit interested in the book, and I think it had some good ideas and themes and such, but I simply wasn’t interested in it enough to keep going. This wasn’t the book for me, but I think it’s a good book for many other readers – and, if you don’t believe me, simply look at all the many good reviews that left me conflicted!

It’s Complicated



2 thoughts on “Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

  1. I tried reading this book this past summer and ended up deciding not to finish it either. There was just nothing keeping me interested and wanting to read it, you know? You put exactly how I felt into words!

    1. That’s really great to hear when there are so many rave reviews that make me feel like I HAD to give it a chance even though I just didn’t care enough about it. I’m glad you think I said how you felt, because I was having so much trouble just figuring out how I felt about it! This book definitely got me thinking, even if I didn’t care for it.

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