Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
(Houghton Miffling, Hardcover, October 2009)
D.J. Schwenk knows what it's like to be stressed. Lately, she's feeling it from all sides. She's been overseeing her brother's physical therapy after a football accident left him nearly paralyzed. She's dating her best friend, yet still harboring feelings for her ex. And she's about to make the biggest decision of her life—whether to accept a basketball scholarship to a small, safe school or to risk everything by going to a big, stadium-packed school to play ball.
This is definitely my favorite D.J. Schwenk novel yet. Whereas Dairy Queen set out to break down stereotypes by having D.J. be the only girl on her high school's football team, Front and Center looks at the pressures that come with high school. D.J. is really good at basketball, but she clams up on the court when the stakes are high. As D.J. learns to be a leader and find her voice, I was rooting for her to go big and accept a scholarship at a top basketball school. Readers will have to pick up this book to find out what choice D.J. makes, though. In Front and Center, Catherine Murdock Gilbert delivers a gripping novel that is completely true to D.J.'s voice and that accurately depicts the college decision-making. I'm only sad that this is the final book in the trilogy...