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. – Goodreads
I read the three books in this series in under 24 hours and, yes, part of that did have to do with their relatively short length, but mostly it was due to them being so genuine, funny, and heartwarming.
The protagonist in the books, DJ Schwenk, was so easy to relate to. I’ve never lived on a farm, and my knowledge of football (or any sport for that matter) is practically non-existent, but it was so easy to step into her shoes as she navigated through the ups and downs of growing up. There are very few characters I can say that I’m proud of, but DJ is definitely one of them. She sacrificed a lot to take on so much responsibility and yet managed to stay clear of over the top whining and crying.
There is a romance storyline in the books and I loved how it was handled. It was sweet, built on friendship, but it wasn’t perfect all the way through. Though DJ and Brian shared some wonderful moments, it was really obvious that they had a long way to go. Once again my admiration for DJ came through because she was able to recognize that, realize she deserved better, and, though she obviously cared for Brian a lot, take a step back. There are so many characters in other books who refuse to communicate in their relationships, so it was really refreshing to have DJ. let Brian know that she wouldn’t put up with some of his crap. Both of them grew up throughout the course of the three books and, above everything else, it was great to see the evolution of their friendship.
If that wasn’t enough, I absolutely fell in love with the Schwenk family dynamic. They were the heart of these books and everyone, from the usually silent Curtis to Smut the dog, was a character I felt close to. They’re a hardworking bunch who experience so many pitfalls (SERIOUSLY) and still manage to stick together and work through it. They were frustrating, charming, and so, so loveable.
These books were such an unexpected, wonderful surprise for me so perhaps it would be the same for you. I definitely think you should pick them up if you have the chance!
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