Double Minds, by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, 2009)
Parker James is a Christian songwriter who performs when she can and works reception at a recording studio in Nashville. When another receptionist is murdered on the job, her brother is one of the detectives called to the scene. Trouble is, Parker helped him study for his exams and she seems to remember better than he what needs doing.
As well as dealing with the emotional fallout of her co-worker’s death, Parker faces pressure to rewrite her latest worship songs as love songs. Long-time friend Serene has gained so much attention singing Parker’s songs that she’s been approached by a mainstream recording executive.
I like how author Terri Blackstock shows Parker’s conflict over this issue. While on the one hand it’s fine for Parker to be a songwriter who’s Christian—even if she writes mainstream lyrics—on the other hand, the songs she’s been asked to “tone down” were written as acts of worship. Would changing them be selling out?
Theft and a second murder raise the suspense even higher, until it comes to a satisfying and unexpected conclusion. Parker also finds perspective on her song-writing and performance abilities, although I was disappointed not to see an epilogue of where the future would take her.
Double Minds gives readers an interesting insider view of the Nashville music industry. Parker is a genuinely likeable young woman. She and the other characters feel like real people, with interesting quirks and backgrounds.
One of the things I always appreciate about Terri Blackstock’s writing is her honesty about Christians. Double Minds is no exception. Within this fictional Christian recording community, we see believers like Parker who do their best to live as they think Jesus wants them to live. We see characters like Serene and Pete who each know Jesus at some level but are still in bondage (anorexia and alcoholism). And we see others who fall under the “Christian” banner but may have little or no interest in living to please God.
Instead of setting them up for judgement, Terri Blackstock presents them as they are and lets them fall or grow according to their own choices. She treats each character with truth and compassion.
The book’s final pages offer discussion questions about Double Minds, as well as the opening chapter of the author’s next novel, Intervention, releasing September 2009. Looks like another good one!