Thursday, July 28, 2011

Melody Carlson's Double Take ~ Reviewed

By Melody Carlson
Published by Revell
273 Pages

Back Cover:

its spring break of her senior year and Madison Van Buren is fed up. Stressed over Ivy League pressure, her parents' marital problems, and her boyfriend's neglect, Madison gets in her car and drives west. Meanwhile, eighteen-year-old Anna Bronner wants to escape the so-called simple life--which for her consists of caring for younger siblings, sewing, cooking, and gardening--and she's well aware that her future will simply be more of the same with a man she doesn't love. Suddenly, worlds collide when Madison and Anna meet in a small town, realize they look uncannily similar, and decide the grass is definitely greener on the other side.


I’m a Melody Carlson fan, so when an opportunity came to receive a review copy of her newest book I jumped at the chance to read it. Double Take reminded me of two movies the first was the cartoon movie the Prince and the Pauper and the second was The Parent Trap. Melody Carlson blends these two premises in this novel. A spoiled rich girl is feeling overwhelmed by the choices she has to make with her life. Her father wants her in Harvard, her mother is pushing Yale, her boyfriend pressures to do things she doesn’t want to do and her best friend demands she attend social events she’s rather not attend. Madison just wants to get away from her life in the Penthouse suite. She drives off in her fancy car to the country. She meets Anna, an Amish girl who is in a coffee shop looking glum and so much like Madison she can't help but stare. Anna isn’t looking forward to spending time with her Aunt Rachel and Uncle Daniel who are expecting a baby any minute, and needed help to care for the rest of the little ones in the house. Not Anna’s idea of fun.

Anna is waiting for her Uncle to pick her up. Madison is just taking in the view and talking to Anna when she comes up with a plan to switch places and help them both out. It’s a spur of the moment plan they both agree to on the spot Madison’s parents are out of town for the week. Anna is staying with her Aunt and Uncle (whom she doesn’t see often or know well). It’s the perfect set up! They'd be staying with people who don’t know them intimately so they might pull this off.

Now do I think this could ever happen in real life? No, but just like in the movie The Prince and the Pauper and The Parent Trap you just go with it! Its fun to think about what would happen if this ever could take place - a switch between an Amish girl and an Englisher . Fun, Fun, Fun! Parts were hysterical! I enjoyed every second.

I liked Melody’s attention to detail and the way these girls experienced the others life. It was fascinating. Anna says this to Madison, “I don’t understand why English have so much comfortable things-beds, chairs, pillows, blankets, rugs….so luxurious-and then wear uncomfortable shoes and clothes?”

Madison laughed. “I don’t know. That’s a good question….I thought about the opposite question, why do the Amish dress comfortably, but all their beds and furnishings are uncomfortable?”

They have this conversation about different things they were experiencing in each others lives. Madison lives in a Penthouse suite and Anna takes her first elevator ride. Ohmygosh! What a riot! Anna doesn’t have indoor plumbing and Madison uses an outhouse for the first time. Hysterical! It’s all the little things about this story that I found humorous and eye opening as I hadn’t really thought about what the other would experience as they tried to life in a different world.

There’s a sensitive spiritual thread that was uniquely woven throughout this story, which was very believable. I really liked how both of these girls searched the depths of their souls to discover what was real for them. Madison learns to slow down, stop and smell the flowers and realizes what she's been missing. Anna wondered if she would throw the Amish life style away just to be with Jacob a boy she loved! Was her love for this boy greater than her love for God? Melody’s stories are fun; I care about and enjoy her characters that catch me by surprise as I feel a twinge in my heart about an event in the book. It’s the simple truths that touched me. This is not like any Amish story you’ve read so far. It’s a delightful; humorous novel that is respectful to both the Amish and the Englisher life styles. It’s a great read for the summer. I highly recommend it!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

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