As always, Murdock’s characterization is what sells the whole show. D.J. Schwenk, for me, is a relatable everyday girl who’s flawed but has a good heart. I love her more than I can say. D.J.’s family is also amazing—they’re not the most functional, and they’re not touchy-feeling people, but they’re family, and they care for each other. D.J.’s classmates and friends, teammates, coaches, neighbors—all amazing, nice people who maybe aren’t the best but still mean well most of the time.
While Dairy Queen was mostly about working on the farm and training for football, and The Off Season was about D.J.’s brother’s injury and physical therapy, Front and Center is all about D.J. and her future. Basically, will she play Division I basketball, or will she let her fear get the best of her? Over three books Murdock has shown a steady growth in D.J.’s character, and by the end of this final installment, I was so proud of D.J. and her choices. Sometimes I wanted to strangle her for just being herself, but then you remember that without those “I want to hurt you, D.J.” moments, she wouldn’t be the amazing character she is.
This review is going to be short because at this point, there’s not much I can say. I love this series. I love D.J. Schwenk. These books bring out a new side of contemporary YA—Front and Center is not a “dark issues book” or a “fluffy teen romance”. This book is real, and that’s why it (and the entire series) is amazing.