Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mixed Bags - Melody Carlson

Teen girls are difficult sometimes. When you put six of them in a boarding house/finishing school environment you can expect conflict and mischief to be close behind. Melody Carlson has created a story in which a retired fashion model decides to open her renovated home to girls whose parents want to give them some advantages – some finishing touches on becoming a young lady.

This story has the basis of being an interesting “proving ground” for teen girls. I know dysfunctional families are the norm these days, and I personally know of many people struggling with their teens. My own teenage years seemed steeped in memories of crying over some little boy who hurt my feelings on a regular basis. Anyway, my point is this…the girls in this book – four out of the six anyway - are filthy rich. The grandmother who runs the boarding house is rich. The one really weird rebel with multiple body piercings is from a Christian home, and the only Christian in the group has a mother who is an addict. This is like a bad television sitcom.

I used to live with girls like this when I attended a women’s college. The four rich girls are cliché; spoiled, self-centered girls who act like the entire world is beneath them. DJ is the only one I could remotely relate to and that’s only because at the beginning she seemed like she had a little common sense. The addict’s daughter, Rhinnon, is a delightful Christian teen, but she is a little too Pollyanna. In short, this got on my nerves. Grandma’s only sage advice was “don’t do anything to embarrass me.” What earthly good will that do? Grandma is more interested in her wardrobe and hairdo than the girls who are boarding with her. How is that a good thing?

If there is any hope for these girls, Melody Carlson has a looong series ahead. I’m going to try one more in the series to give this a fair shake, but so far I’m more irritated than impressed. Moms should read this before passing it on to their teens, because you are dealing with drinking, smoking, sex and intense peer pressure issues. Not light reading.

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