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Mixed Bags: Carter House Girls, Book 1

Review

Mixed Bags: Carter House Girls, Book 1

Prolific author Melody Carlson has successfully jump-started another real-to-life teen series, this time featuring tomboyish DJ Lane (aka Desiree), who has to figure out how to fit in at her grandmother's boarding house for teen fashion plates. Katherine Carter, once an international fashion model herself, has now retired. To supplement her income, she has opened a home for the wealthy, fashion-oriented young teenage girls to be groomed in culture and the finer ways of life. Too bad DJ has no use for such things as designer clothes, makeup and hair highlights. She would rather be outdoors playing sports than indoors playing dress-up.

Since her mother's death, DJ tried living with her dad, his new wife and their infant twins, only to feel like she was being used as a full-time babysitter. So she jumped at the chance to live with her maternal grandmother, even though the two are as different as night and day. Still, DJ is semi-excited to find out that two old friends are coming to board at Mrs. Carter's with her.

Rhiannon, a former neighbor girl with little funds, is taken in by Mrs. Carter and is a different person from who DJ remembered. The change? God. Rhiannon's home life was no picnic and she had discovered Christ to be her source of strength and hope. Then there is Casey, her one-time best friend forever turned Goth with her spiky, jet-black hair and the electric blue center piece, assorted facial piercings and thick black eyeliner. DJ almost doesn’t recognize Casey, but her looks aren't the only alterations. Attitude --- lots of angry, bitter, in-your-face attitude --- now pours out of Casey as well. Like Rhiannon, Casey has a story of hard times, and her current outward appearance is her way of protecting herself. DJ just doesn’t know what to think.

Then there are the "other" boarders --- Eliza, Taylor and Kriti --- three girls with money, individual egos and minds of their own. With the six young ladies sharing bedrooms and closet space, there are soon arguments, tantrums, backbiting and power plays --- all of which DJ is no match for. Especially difficult for her is the interplay between the girls and boys in town. One particular boy, Connor, is soon caught between DJ and their blossoming friendship, and the conniving Taylor, who is set on destroying DJ's chances with Connor as well as her reputation. Are there any winners here? DJ soon realizes that she is out of her depth and makes external and internal changes that have Connor and the girls noticing.

MIXED BAGS is an excellent beginning to a fun-filled, teen angst-driven lifestyle storyline that highlights the rich and famous...with all their peculiar habits, biases and prejudices. Melody Carlson's books always promise an emotional (and educational) ride to her readers --- and the first installment of the Carter House Girls series is no exception.

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Reviewed by Michele Howe on October 18, 2011

Mixed Bags: Carter House Girls, Book 1
by Melody Carlson

  • Publication Date: April 29, 2008
  • Genres: Christian, Fiction
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • ISBN-10: 0310714885
  • ISBN-13: 9780310714880