Book Review: "Double Take" by Melody Carlson

Summary from Madison Van Buren is fed up with Ivy League pressure, her parents' marital problems, and her boyfriend's neglect. So she hops in her car and drives west. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Anna Bronner wants to escape her tedious "simple" life. What will happen when a Manhattan socialite and an Amish girl switch places for a week?

If you have been reading my reviews for a while, then you know how much of a fan of Melody Carlson I am. I've read about 99% of all her adult and YA books and have been thrilled with almost all of them. She is one of those authors that I love to recommend, to both readers of Christian and general market fiction. I pretty much think she can do no wrong in terms of writing. That is until I read this book.

I felt like this book is trying to get into the whole Amish craze that has swept the Christian publishing industry lately. The way it's written is geared more towards older women who are fans of Amish fiction rather than actual YA readers. How is it this evident? Well mainly because Madison does NOT act like a typical teenage girl. I understand that she's fed up with how busy her life is but we never really get to know the real Madison. The one we see acts like she's 50 or something. Anna, I suppose I can excuse because she's Amish. However, even then she's portrayed as someone who lives a sheltered life but it's ok because she's happy about it.

The whole idea of two teen girls switching life like this is extremely imaginative to the point where I just could not buy it. I mean seriously, who does this sort of thing on a whim and actually thinks they can get away with it? There are so many things that neither girl thinks of. For example, what would happen if either Anna or Madison got severely injured or even died during the switch? Who would know how to contact the right parents? Also, I know that they are just teenage girls but would you really entrust your life to a stranger who just happens to look like you? I mean safety first!

Another thing I had a problem with was that the faith of the Amish is never truly explained. It's just implied that there are stricter versions of Amish communities just like in the rest of the world. But I want to know why Rachel chose to live in that way and that her life will not remain miserable. I felt like the only reason why Anna stays Amish is simply because she's a fish out of water and she wants to go back to what's familiar.

This is one of the very few books from Carlson that I haven't liked. Unlike her other YA books which were extremely realistic, this one is just so unbelievable to the point of it's never going to happen. The writing isn't as strong and the characters seemed very one dimensional. Madison is the stereotypical rich girl and Anna is the stereotypical Amish girl. They both never really change throughout the story so I feel like the whole book is rather a waste. I know Carlson can write better than this. I just feel like this book was just trying to cash on the trend but it's going to miss out on the target audience.

Double Take by Melody Carlson is published by Revell (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. I enjoy both Amish and Christian YA so I wondered how this one was going to turn out (since Amish fiction is so un-Melody-like.) Guess I won't necessarily be in big hurry to pull this one out of my TBR pile. Appreciate your thoughts, Deborah.


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