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

This first drama book in the " Diary of a Teenage Girl: Kim" series by Melody Carlson is published by Multnomah Kidz.

Just Ask is written for kids ages 14 to 18. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

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

Kim Peterson, a Korean adoptee, has little use for the Christian faith of her parents and best friend, Natalie. She toys with Buddhism when a classmate's death gets her thinking about eternity. She's not the only one with questions — her dad has her writing a teen advice column for his newspaper called "Just Ask Jamie." She fields tough inquiries on topics like romance, family problems and body image. Only when she becomes a Christian is Kim able to start giving helpful advice to those with questions about death and the meaning of life. As Kim grows in her faith, she confronts issues like dating, self-esteem, friendship struggles, alcohol use and lying. At the end, her mom is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and Kim must trust God to work out the future.

Christian Beliefs

Just Ask is the story of a girl accepting Christ and learning to apply His principles in the "real world" of today's teens. Once Kim becomes a Christian, she lays out the message of salvation for readers. The prayers of Kim's Christian friends, and their support after her conversion, play an important role in her faith journey; Kim begins to attend church and go to a youth group, and her "Just Ask Jamie" answers reflect her newfound convictions. From the time she begins struggling to when she accepts God's role in her life, Kim frequently prays.

Other Belief Systems

Buddhism is explained and discussed in detail as Kim examines the belief system of her Korean heritage. The author uses this as a tool to explain some of the tenets of that faith and to contrast it with Christianity. Kim ultimately determines that only following Christ makes sense.

Authority Roles

Kim's parents are Christians, but the story begins with Kim's dad "blackmailing" her. He says he won't tell Kim's mom about a traffic ticket Kim got if she will write a teen advice column for the newspaper he manages. Kim's mother later tells Kim that she knew about the ticket. Kim's dad had secretly told her. Kim's mother cries when Kim starts exploring Buddhism, but Dad assures her that Kim is a smart girl who will discover the Truth in time. The father of her friend Natalie runs off with a co-worker, and Natalie's mom has, in Kim's words, some "pretty weird mood swings" since he left. Natalie's mom relies excessively on Natalie to care for her two younger siblings. Teens in Kim's "Just Ask Jamie" letters talk about parents failing to act their age and using or abusing their children.

Profanity/Violence

None

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

Between Kim's personal experiences and the topics she addresses in the "Just Ask Jamie" column, this book covers numerous hot teen topics including appearance and body image (weight, how to be "girlfriend material" and belly button piercing), parental issues (Mom tries to act like a teen, stepmother uses girl for baby-sitting, stepfather "puts the moves" on stepdaughter and regains parents' trust after lying to them), dating problems (girl sleeps with HIV-positive boyfriend and may be pregnant, ex-boyfriend uses girl for sex, friend dates a jerk and guy lies to girlfriend about being a vegan), overcoming embarrassment (girl's shorts fall down in front of the whole school and she's wearing "granny panties" and two girls kiss and pretend to be lesbians and now worry about their reputations), and other serious issues such as cutting and drug addiction. In most cases, the answers are not cut-and-dry (though "Jamie's" responses are fairly solid). Parents can use this book to begin a discussion on these topics.

  • What did you think about the way Kim and her friends handled the couple that got drunk before the dance?
  • What would you have done?

  • What do you think of Natalie's concern about Kim dating a non-Christian? Is she right?

  • Could there be problems? If so, what?

  • Did you think the advice Kim gave as "Jamie" was good?

  • Would you have answered anything differently?

  • What did you think about the way Kim's Christian friends behaved around her before she was a Christian?

  • Did they push her too much with their conversations about prayer and faith, or were their conversations balanced?
  • Do you find it hard to discuss Christ with your friends without turning them off?

  • When Kim lies to Natalie about her involvement with "Just Ask Jamie," she tells God she's sorry.

  • Is it OK for her to be dishonest in order to keep her identity secret?

  • What about Kim playing poker with her friends?

  • Is it harmless fun (she does donate the money to charity), or can this behavior lead to a gambling addiction?

  • How did you feel about Kim's dad's "blackmailing" her, pretending to keep secrets from her mom, and then actually telling her mother behind Kim's back?

  • What did you think when you read Kim's feelings about being adopted?

  • Did it give you any insight about the struggles adopted kids may feel?
  • How can you be sensitive to the unique emotions of adopted kids?

  • Kim plays poker with her friends.

  • Is this OK for her to do? On what do you base your opinion?

Additional Comments/Notes

Note: Other series characters include Caitlin, Chloe and Maya.


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

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

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!