Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Dairy Queen

I could easily praise the consistent, friendly voice of the narrator, or the artfully natural character development, but what impresses me most are the layers comprised within what first appears to be a simple story. Dairy Queen, by Professor Catherine Gilbert Murdock, is an engrossing read about a teenage girl's awakening--that fleeting time of life during which awareness of others, of one's role in the lives of others, and of the way the world works suddenly expands and settles in for keeps.

This novel could easily be incorporated in schools for its understated lessons in character. The author boldly broaches individualism vs. collectivism, doing what's right vs. what's expected or popular, but never does so in a manner that seems preachy or artificial.

The characters learn that behavior is a choice, and the book therefore advocates personal responsibility and self-control when they exercise their choices in words and deeds.

Though the book is "clean," and free of major controversial issues, the characters are not without cruel impulses or words they wish they could retract. There is ample and realistic strife in their lives--both implied and explained.

This is an accessible, entertaining, and thought-provoking book that I'll buy for my nieces and for my classroom. I'm thrilled to discover that a sequel is now available: The Off Season.

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