Madison Van Buren is a spoiled rich girl from New York who is sick of being caught in the middle of her divorced parents. She's also tired of everybody telling her what to do. When her boyfriend, best friend, father and mother all try pressuring her into complying with their own specific spring break plans, she resolves to refuse every one of them. She will spend spring break by herself, doing what she wants to do --- whatever that is. More than anything, she just wants to get away from it all.
Anna Fisher is a simple Amish girl from Pennsylvania who has become bored with her life. It seems to her that there's more to life than chores and taking care of children. Jacob, a boy she really liked, recently left the Amish community for the bustling city of New York. Besides missing him terribly, she sometimes reads "Englisher" books and is a little curious about the excitement that lies outside her Amish world.
Anna is not happy when her mother informs her that she's sending her to a more strict Amish community to help her eight-month-pregnant aunt, Rachel, until the baby is born. The last thing she wants to do is live with her aunt, who is known throughout the community as lazy, not to mention perform even more chores and take care of her unruly cousins. Anna can't help thinking about Jacob and wondering what sort of exciting lifestyle he's living. She wishes she could find him and see if there's any chance they could still be together one day.
On a whim, Madison decides to take a drive to Amish Country. She's always been fascinated with the Amish and their plain, less complicated way of life. She stops at a diner to grab something to eat. There she meets Anna, who is on her way to her aunt's and has to wait several hours for her uncle to pick her up. When Madison and Anna realize how much they look alike, they switch clothes for fun, which prompts Madison to suggest that they trade places for one week. Anna naively believes this may be the chance to find Jacob, and she heads for Madison's New York penthouse, while Madison goes with Anna's uncle to assist Aunt Rachel.
Who doesn't remember the movie The Parent Trap? In that story, the two main characters had a good motive for switching places: to get their divorced parents back together. Since its release, there have been several other films in which twins trade places for a time. DOUBLE TAKE offers a slight twist in the tale, and each girl has her own reason for wanting to swap lives for a week. Madison and Anna are not twins separated at birth, but look uncannily alike --- enough to fool even those closest to them. Maybe it's not the most realistic scenario, but this is fiction, where the impossible becomes possible.
With the rage of Amish books right now, Melody Carlson, author of dozens of books for teens and young adults, chose the perfect time to get in on the action. I can easily see this book as a movie and think tween and teen girls would be lining up in droves to see the film adaptation of DOUBLE TAKE.
The characters are likable, the story is fun and flows smoothly, and the message of being content with who you are is clear. Could the characters have been more deeply developed and the storyline meatier? Probably. Could there have been slightly more takeaway value and a more defining spiritual meaning? Yes. But this isn't a heavy, intense read. It's a fast, lighthearted and entertaining story that can be read in a few hours. You may not find this to be one of Carlson's most memorable books, but if you love switching-places stories and you're a Carlson fan, you shouldn't be disappointed with DOUBLE TAKE.
By the time you reach the last page, both Madison and Anna have grown up and take away a nice lesson from their experience. Maybe you will, too.
--- Reviewed by Lynda Schab (www.Lyndaschab.com)
Click here now to buy this book from Amazon.com.