Double Take by Melody Carlson – My Review

Revell (Jun 01, 2011)
If you’re looking for a great summer read for adults and YA readers alike then check out Melody’s newest novel. Spring Break is supposed to mean vacation time and who needs that more than a High School senior before graduation. Madison has Mom and Dad both pushing for Ivy League (different schools even) next year which would mean applications, essays, transcripts, and the rest all in to the schools and a decision on her part NOW! to pursue that. Her best friend who doesn’t want to go on a “family” vacation and be left to her own devices amongst a sea of adults. Grandma also has Mom begging Madison to travel to Europe with them over school break. Now if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend is demanding attention and being a general jerk so Madison would like to find a way to just disappear. Apparently money and family name aren’t all they’re cracked up to be in Madison’s case.

Hours away from bustling New York city Anna finished school at 8th grade per the standard Amish practice and has spent the last four years caring for siblings, hoping to find the right Amish husband for her, being a “good girl” per her cultural environs, and helping out wherever and whenever she is directed both amongst her Amish community and with extended family needs outside her own district. This year Aunt Rachel is expecting and since her last pregnancy was so difficult, Anna is enlisted to take over the household duties that Rachel should be avoiding both for the sake of her unborn child and her own.

Anna is feeling trapped by the confines of being Amish and considering what it might be like to stop being responsible at least long enough to see what another life might hold. Madison on the other hand might just flourish away from her “Englisch” life and all the demands facing her. While Madison decides to get away from it all by fleeing the city, Anna is on her way to “town” where her uncle will be collecting her for the buggy ride back to his farm. After her father delivers Anna to the meeting place where her uncle plans to meet her, Madison has also happened to arrive at nearly the same location. As they nearly collide outside the restroom of a coffee shop the two discover they may just have the key to their “dreams” of a different life without the demands they resent. This “key” catapults them both into culture shock among people and societies the polar opposite of their accustomed environments. Though this “experiment” they concoct only lasts a week that is an interminable stretch of time to be faced with unfamiliar demands and expectations on their time rather than the familiar yet unwelcome demands of their current lives.

Escape ends up to be a very different situation than either Madison or Anna expects and by the end of a week they have learned much about themselves and the nagging questions they hadn’t looked for answers to just yet. Their experiment not only cements their own decisions about where they want their lives to go from here but also exposes them both to worlds they would never experience the same way as outsiders. The comedies of errors throughout this book keep a lighthearted tone despite many of the serious and emotionally heavy topics built into the plot. Rarely have I read a Melody Carlson book that I found too heavy and serious for my tastes. This author has a knack of attacking topics in a manner that is not only balanced but keeps the reader entertained with lighter moments and can make even topics of heavy social importance a vacation read for those like me who expect significant elements of escapism in fiction regardless of the content of the story.
(ISBN#9780800719647, 288pp, $9.99)

Visit Melody’s website. Click the cover for more info and to purchase a copy. Read an excerpt. Thanks to Revell for a review copy.

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