Book Review: Double Take by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: June 1, 2011

Book Synopsis as provided by the publisher:

What do you do when your life is not all it's cracked up to be? Get a new one.

It's spring break of her senior year and Madison Van Buren is fed up. Stressed over decisions on colleges, her parents' bickering, and pressures from her boyfriend, Madison gets in her car and just drives away. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Anna Fisher wants to escape the so-called simple life of the Amish--which for her consists of caring for younger children, 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. Worlds collide when Madison and Anna meet for the first time in a small town, realize they look uncannily alike, and decide the grass is greener on the other side. Neither of them will ever be the same.


Double Take poses an interesting scenario, the ability to exchange lives for a week with someone else to discover what life would be like if you'd been born into a different family. Carlson managed to create a scenario that seemed largely believable due to the fact that Anna was supposed to be helping out an aunt she hadn't seen in two years, and Madison's parents were likewise out of town, so that the people they mostly interacted with were none the wiser about the switch taking place. I did have to suspend my belief somewhat in regards to one key character not recognizing that Madison was not actually Madison. Also, a weakness that stood out for me is that there was no real consequences or accountability for their actions in the story with the exception of Madison having to apologize to one man for flirting with him and leading him on. Although they made a decision that was naive and lighthearted with no intent to cause harm, deceiving people is really no simple thing and this side of the story is somewhat glossed over.

However, taken at face value, it is clear Carlson is attempting to provide a lighthearted read that also imparts some deeper truths. I always enjoy reading about the Amish and the simplicity they've embraced, and Carlson not only provides an entertaining story, but also highlights our overindulgence in material possessions and how this can get in the way of our relationship with God. Carlson's conclusion was spot-on, as she writes "But Madison felt certain that God appreciated simplicity. Because that was where she had found him. And that was where she was determined to remain".

Teens looking for a fun story with some deeper themes should count on picking up this book. A strong recommendation due to the important message contained in these pages, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.