Front and Center Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

I considered waiting for the audio version of this one, after having reread Dairy Queen and The Off Season on audio recently – the kind of audiobooks where you’re reluctant to get out of the car because you just want more more more – but impatience won out and I gobbled this down as soon as my library hold came in.

And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I love DJ’s voice, and here it’s as convincing and endearing as ever. We don’t have much in common, DJ and I, but I love spending time with her. While it’s hard to suppress my giddy love of these books in order to look at them with a reviewer’s eye, one strength that immediately comes to mind is the way that Murdock puts the reader into the mind of a sports player. Whether it’s football, in the first books, or basketball here, I actually begin to understand the appeal. Sports could cease to exist in the real world and I wouldn’t blink an eye, but DJ’s descriptions make basketball training and the chance of a college scholarship compelling. I can’t help but be impressed.

I would definitely read the books in order, starting with Dairy Queen. While the plot stands more or less alone, a lot of character development happens in the earlier books that helps you understand what’s going on here. Plus, the more time you have with DJ and her family, the better. My only complaint is that I hear the series is over. Boo. This is definitely a series I’ll reread.

While DJ is a high school junior, and there’s a bit of romance to the story, there’s nothing that would make this inappropriate for middle school readers.

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