WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl and April Henry has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Triple Threat” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Seventeen-year-old Katie Converse is a studious U.S. Senate page. Back home in Portland for Christmas, Katie takes her sister’s dog for a walk and disappears. Katie’s case quickly becomes personal for three friends who jokingly refer to themselves as the Triple Threat.

Cassidy Shaw is a television reporter, obsessed with her appearance and her career. She changes her beliefs about the mystic powers at work in the universe as often as she changes boyfriends. Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor with a loving husband, Marshall, has her first child on the way. A devoted Christian, Allison believes God wants her in this career to make the world better. Even so, she worries how the stress of her job — not to mention the anonymous death threats she’s recently received — will affect her pregnancy. FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, aka Nic, is a single mom, a tough girl and a skeptic regarding her friends’ beliefs. A passion for justice bonds the three women, who first met in high school. They often get together for drinks or dessert and conversations about crime.

Shortly after Katie’s parents report her disappearance, the media descend on their house. Katie lives with her father, stepmother Valerie and a stepsister. From D.C., the teen wrote blog posts about her life as a Senate page. In their own ways, each of the Triple Threat women searches for leads and information about Katie.

Cassidy knows she’s not getting any younger, and high-definition TV has just been introduced. The only way she’ll be able to advance to a larger market is to scoop everyone else on a major news story. Allison’s interest in the Converse case is more emotional. When she looks at Katie’s pictures, she thinks of her younger sister, who calls periodically soliciting money for drugs. Allison also volunteers at a domestic violence shelter, so she’s familiar with the way some women find themselves entangled in dangerous situations. One of Nic’s primary jobs is to pose as a teen girl and infiltrate internet chat rooms in search of predators. She wonders if Katie was kidnapped or lured away by an online offender.

The women investigate Katie’s life in D.C. They search the girl’s computer and blog, and they probe into her short-lived romance with another Senate page. They also discover she was fond of her sponsor, Senator Fairview, and suspect he and Katie had an affair. After numerous denials, interviews and an admission that he is entering rehab because of alcoholism, the senator finally admits to a sexual relationship with Katie. He even confesses that, despite his legal tirades against abortion, he took Katie to get one. She was a troubled young woman, he insists, but he did not kill her. In fact, he helped with the abortion because he feared she might take her own life.

A jogger finds a dismembered hand in a forested area of the city and calls 911. Police quickly find the rest of Katie’s decaying body nearby. A red leash, the one her sister’s dog was wearing, is wrapped around her neck. Investigators contemplate whether what they’re seeing is foul play or suicide.

Police discover a homeless man and his young daughter living in the forest near where Katie’s body was found. The women wonder if he is a suspect. Cassidy also finds hidden camera footage of a distraught Senator Fairview leaving the area of the crime the day Katie went missing.

In the midst of the investigation, Allison feels the joy of pregnancy and the fear caused by repeated death threats. Nic often thinks of how she’d feel if her own daughter, Makayla, were in Katie’s shoes. Nic refuses to talk with anyone about Makayla’s father, and she remains stoic about the idea of true love.

Cassidy pushes hard for information on the Katie Converse case, fearing she will lose her edge to a national anchor arriving in town to cover the story. Cassidy’s new boyfriend, Rick, grows progressively jealous and violent. Allison and Nic eventually intervene and have Cassidy talk to women at the center where Allison volunteers.

While Allison and Nic wait for Cassidy at the women’s shelter, an employee sees Katie’s parents on the TV. She reveals that the couple had been to the center using fake names. The circumstances had been unusual, though: The wife was frequently battering the husband.

Allison and Nic quickly head to the Converse household, hoping they’ll be able to talk with Katie’s dad alone. Valerie has left home briefly, so they grill him about her abusive behavior. He admits he couldn’t fight back or she could have accused him of domestic violence.

They don’t hear Valerie come home. She enters the room and holds them at gunpoint. She explains how her now-husband got her drunk and pregnant when she was very young and he was grieving the loss of his wife. Valerie grew increasingly bitter for having been forced to marry and miss all the joys of youth. She admits to having found Katie waiting for a rendezvous with the senator.

In her anger, she hit Katie in the neck in a way that prevented the girl from breathing. She hadn’t intended to wield a fatal blow. Not wanting to go to jail and have her own daughter live a motherless life, Valerie wrapped the dog leash around Katie’s neck to make it look like suicide. Nic draws her gun, and Valerie shoots her. Allison, who knows little about shooting, grabs Nic’s gun and fatally wounds Valerie.

As Allison parks near a restaurant where she’s meeting the others, she senses she’s being followed. She phones Nic, who comes to her rescue and calls the police. The person sending Allison threats turns out to be a woman Allison had represented. Allison hadn’t been able to convince the jury that this woman had been raped, and the attacker had gone free. The woman blamed Allison because she still had to live in fear.

After the stalker is arrested, the Triple Threat club shares a meal and discusses the future. Cassidy has dumped Rick and has decided to not pursue job offers outside of Portland. Nic, recovering from her gunshot wound, has finally agreed to take a chance on love and go out with a co-worker.

Christian Beliefs

Allison is a strong Christian who has devotional time, prays and meditates on Bible verses. Several Scriptures appear in the text. At a Christmas Eve service, Allison’s pastor can tell she’s upset. He invites her and Marshall to his office, and they pray together. Nic’s mother says she will be taking her granddaughter to church. When Nic says she wants Makayla to decide what she believes for herself when she’s old enough, Grandma quotes Scripture about training up a child in the way he should go. The homeless man living in the woods is a Christian. He shares encouraging verses with Allison.

Other Belief Systems

Cassidy espouses various New Age beliefs. She mentions cosmic energy and meditation. Her friends notice she’s started wearing a Kabbalah bracelet. Nic thinks both of her friends’ belief systems are irrational. Many psychics approach the police and Katie’s family. They say they’ve heard from Katie or had dreams about her.

Authority Roles

Senator Fairview takes advantage of Katie’s innocence and seduces her. Valerie physically and emotionally abuses Katie and other members of the household.

Profanity/Violence

The words h---, crap and suck appear a few times. The women mention a previous case in which a girl was found half dead in a child molester’s basement. The kidnapper was filming her on a web cam. A jogger finds Katie’s severed hand, and police later see predatory animals have gnawed on her face and other body parts. Valerie shoots Nic, and Allison kills Valerie using the gun.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Allison receives threatening notes and calls. The man says he wants to rape her and then cut her into pieces. He also calls her a slut. The narrator talks about periods, pregnancy tests and efforts to get pregnant in reference to Allison and her husband.

Nic works on the cybercrime unit and often has sexual conversations with predators while posing as a 13- or 14-year-old girl. Nic mentions a case where a man posed as his ex-wife online and lured a man to rape her.

Pornography is mentioned as a problem for predators. Some office gossips believe Nic is a lesbian. The senator’s lawyer, using several slang terms, asks Fairview if he was sleeping with Katie. Allison, Cassidy and Nic talk about losing their virginity. Allison shares how a teacher took advantage of her vulnerability during a lonely time and seduced her. Cassidy sleeps with Rick and walks around naked in front of him. Senator Fairview seduces Katie and impregnates her. She demands he help her get an abortion, and he complies.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Addiction: Allison’s younger sister travels the country, lives with various boyfriends and has drug and alcohol addictions. She sometimes calls Allison asking for money. She tells Allison she wants to come home for a visit, but she keeps the money Allison wires to her and never shows up.

Domestic violence: Cassidy’s boyfriend, Rick, is angry and jealous. Eventually, he becomes physically violent. Like many victims, Cassidy tries to cover for him until Allison and Nic confront her. A woman who sometimes visits the shelter where Allison volunteers will only speak to Allison. She’s too afraid of her husband and father to leave her abusive living situation. Once when she visits the shelter, Allison calls for an ambulance. She fears the woman may have lost her unborn child because of her husband’s physical abuse. Valerie abuses Katie’s dad. In her anger, she fatally wounds Katie.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!