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 contemporary teen collection is the first of two volumes in the "SummerHill Secrets" series by Beverly Lewis and is published by Bethany House Publishers, an imprint of Baker Publishing Group.

Summerhill Secrets is written for kids ages 13 to 16. 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

Volume 1 in the "SummerHill Secrets" series holds five books about Merry Hanson, a modern 15-year-old girl living in Lancaster, Pa., near Amish country. Through each book, Merry is challenged in her relationships with others and with her faith in God.

Whispers Down the Lane

Merry's classmate Lissa Vyner appears on her doorstep beaten and in tears. With the help of her Amish neighbor and friend Rachel Zook, Merry helps to lead Lissa — and her family — down a road of healing. Meanwhile, Merry struggles with her own bottled grief over the childhood death of her twin sister and questions the reality of God's love.

Secrets in the Willow

The Zooks' family farm is vandalized. Along her journey to unveil the perpetrator, Merry meets Elton, an autistic classmate with a gift for art. Later, he saves her from a fire in the Zooks' barn, but he is accused of starting the blaze. Merry fights for Elton's innocence, and when another Amish boy named Ben Fisher is discovered to be the true culprit, Merry learns an incredible lesson about the power of friendship.

Catch a Falling Star

Merry and her childhood friend Levi Zook have a complex relationship. When Merry is asked to complete a family tree for school, she enlists the help of the Zooks, with whom she shares a distant heritage. Hurt that Lissa has taken an interest in Merry's secret crush, Jon Klein, Merry gives her attention to Levi instead. Merry suddenly finds herself torn between two worlds: the modern world where she lives and Levi's Amish lifestyle. Levi begins to explore contemporary traditions, and Merry believes their relationship may be expanding beyond "just friends."

Night of the Fireflies

Merry is delighted when Susie Zook takes an interest in her company, especially because the little girl is the striking image of Merry's deceased twin sister. While hunting for fireflies one night, a terrible accident threatens Susie's life, and Merry relives memories of her own sister's tragic death. Inspired by a poem written by Grandfather Zook, Merry eventually accepts her past. Susie recovers, but Grandfather Zook passes away in his sleep. Merry begins to understand that death is not an ending but a beginning.

A Cry in the Dark

A distraught young mother leaves a baby named Charity in Merry's gazebo. When the baby's parents are finally found, they sign away their parental rights and place the child for adoption. At first, Charity appears to be just what Merry and her family need to heal, especially Merry's mother, who never fully recovered from the death of her daughter. Meanwhile, newlyweds Curly John and Sarah Zook experience heartbreak after they miscarry their first child. In the end, they adopt Charity.

Christian Beliefs

Each book in this collection is grounded in Christian truths, such as the supremacy of God, the truth of His Word and the belief in salvation through faith. Whispers Down the Lane focuses on the love of God and on the forgiveness of others. Secrets in the Willows emphasizes the beauty of friendship and on the use of talents to worship God. Catch a Falling Star deals with the consequences of envy while Night of the Fireflies explores themes of grief, death and healing. Finally, Cry in the Dark revolves around selflessness and sacrifice. Throughout these novels, the Amish culture is introduced and explored. Although sometimes legalistic, the Amish believe in the one true God and His Word.

Other Belief Systems

In Catch a Falling Star Lissa mentions that her parents are experimenting with the occult through the study of mysticism, crystals and mood rings. The author references reincarnation, "folk healing" and the use of charms and incantations to promote health.

Authority Roles

In Whispers Down the Lane, Lissa's father, who is also a police officer, starts out as an abusive alcoholic. As a result, Lissa fears authority and hides from the police. She distrusts counselors and doctors as well, convinced that their only agenda is to put her in a foster home. Throughout each novel, Merry's elderly neighbor, Ruby Spindler, is portrayed as a meddler and neighborhood nuisance; however, in A Cry in the Dark, readers are shown her motherly side. As far as parental figures are concerned (and except in Lissa's initial situation), they are painted as faithful sources of love, advice, reassurance and comfort.

Profanity/Violence

Physical abuse is prevalent in Whispers Down the Lane. Scenes involving the destruction of property, a trash can fire at school and a burning barn resulting in physical injury are played out in Secrets in the Willows. A car accident occurs in Night of the Fireflies. Each story avoids gruesome images and there is no profanity. At one point, however, mildly derogatory terms are used to describe a boy with developmental delays.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

There are only two points in this collection where characters kiss. The first is done within the context of courting (Secrets in the Willows), and the second is between two parents, married to each other (A Cry in the Dark).

Discussion Topics

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

Additional Comments/Notes

This collection deals with difficult themes, such as the death of a child, cancer, unwed pregnancy and child abandonment.


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!