Book Review: "Mixed Bags" by Melody Carlson
6 Different girls + 1 house = TROUBLE!
When her mom died, DJ had to move in with her grandmother, internationally famous ’60s fashion model Katherine Carter. Now Mrs. Carter’s opened a boarding home for young ladies, and DJ—who would rather wear her basketball team uniform than haute couture—is just sure they’ll all be unbearable fashion snobs. One by one, the girls arrive and begin to figure out how to fit into this new family, getting to know each other and forming friendships. Sure, there’s an aspiring diva or two, but before long, the Carter House girls are dating, fighting, laughing, shopping, sharing clothes, purses, shoes … and their deepest secrets. DJ may not turn into the perfect little lady her grandmother has in mind, but one thing’s for certain—with all these new “sisters,” her life will never be the same!
If you are looking for a clean alternative to secular YA fiction, like Gossip Girl and The Clique, then this is the series for you. I adore Melody Carlson's books. I'm past the age of the intended audience, but I can read her books and still feel like they relate to my life. This series is no different. While there are rich girls in this story, the situations that they go through, seem all too familiar. The diverse cast in this book is great. It's wonderful to see this in a YA fiction book and even more so that it's being featured in a Christian fiction story. The boarding school scenario is the hot thing in YA fiction these days and it was fun to see it put to use in this book. It helps to bring out the characters and lets you get to know them better. Each girl is very different, and boy did some of them get on my nerves. Taylor and Eliza were just like girls in my high school and I felt exactly the same way DJ did. I really liked DJ. She's a great character, the "everygirl" one that most girls will be able to relate to. I really did not like DJ's grandmother. Wow, talk about superficial and self absorbent. I do not think she is the right person to be in charge of six girls. DJ manages to hold her own with her grandmother, but it's plain to see that Grandma would rather have a skinny backstabbing model who has sex and smokes than an athletic, smart, normal girl for a granddaughter.
While those on the extreme conservative side might have problems with this book, I applaud its frankness. Unfortunately most teen girls do not live in sheltered homes where there is a Bible study and prayer time every night. A lot of girls have to go to their high school and face other teen girls who act just like Taylor. Even as a Christian, there are going to be times when teen girls are just going to get really angry and jealous of other girls. It's what being a teenager is all about. Also the relationships with the boys are very well handled and everyone acts according to their age. Sorry parents, but 16 year old girls do like boys and this is how they act around them. And I believe Melody Carlson is an expert at relating to teen girls and being able to show them realistic situations that they will understand and enjoy reading. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I truly think she is one of the best YA authors out there today. This is a series that you can pass along to a reader of secular YA and they will still enjoy it. HIGHLY recommended and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series as well.
Mixed Bags by Melody Carlson is published by Zondervan (2008)