At last! A book everybody else likes that I like, too (unlike, say, King Dork).
I will spare the plot summary and focus simply on what I liked: namely, DJ herself. Forthright, smart (in her own way), and funny (in her own way), she could write her grocery list for 200 pages and I'd still want to read it. I'm shocked that the author doesn't seem to have any firsthand experience in the upper Midwest, because the setting rang very true to me. (Granted, I did not grow up in farm country per se, but the whole concept of long-standing/suffocating families and ambitions of limited scope, for good or ill, were familiar and nicely presented.)
Murdock touches on heavy topics -- anger, repression, sexuality -- without losing sight of DJ or ever taking us out of her purview. On the last topic, I was impressed with the way Amber's sexuality was handled: perhaps not as full-on positively as some might like, but quite realistically, I thought, and with no malice on DJ's part.
A great girl, great story, great book. Would like to see this on the Printz list.
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (HMCo, 2006, 275 pages).