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."


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!"


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 Southern historical novel by Elizabeth Musser is published by Bethany House and written for ages 17 and up. 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


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Atlanta society girl Perri Singleton attends the prestigious Washington Seminary. Unlike most of the nation, she and her friends barely feel the impact of the Great Depression. The same can't be said for Mary "Dobbs" Dillard of Chicago and her family. Dobbs' father is a traveling pastor who gave up his inheritance years earlier. His wealthy sister, Josie, in Atlanta is concerned for Dobbs and her sisters. She invites Dobbs to live with her and attend Washington Seminary.

Perri busies herself with parties, boys and her circle of friends. Dobbs lacks poise and polish, frequently going on about her faith and her experiences at tent meetings. Perri is initially put off by Dobbs, until tragedy strikes. Perri's father, having financial struggles of which she was unaware, hangs himself in the barn. Perri discovers his body. Dobbs comes alongside Perri in ways her society friends don't, and the girls develop a strong friendship.

The girls take turns narrating the story of their time together in Atlanta. Dobbs misses her boyfriend, Hank, a poor, aspiring preacher studying at Moody Bible College. She gets to know Aunt Josie's servant girl and learns the child's mother, Anna, is incarcerated for allegedly stealing from Josie's family. Dobbs doesn't believe Anna is guilty and sets out to find the real thief. She also begins to unravel the secrets of her father's wild past. She learns a girl named Jackie, who often stayed with the family and was a dear friend to her, was actually her half-sister through her father's affair with a prostitute. Jackie's death from a rare hereditary illness still haunts her. When Dobbs' younger sister, Coobie, contracts the same illness, Dobbs' faith in God is shaken. At the same time, Dobbs has begun to embrace society and that lifestyle in Atlanta. She wonders if marrying Hank and giving up all of the luxury to preach at tent meetings is the right decision.

With Dobbs' encouragement and aid, Perri begins to develop her photography skills. She starts making money for her family by taking photos at school and selling them. She's delighted to capture the attention of a particularly wealthy and handsome boy named Spalding. She knows if they were to marry, his fortune would allow her to take care of her own family's financial woes. She's skeptical of Dobbs' talk of a loving heavenly Father. But as she works through her grief in losing her own dad, she starts believing Someone is watching out for her. When Spalding becomes possessive and borderline abusive, Perri breaks off the relationship.

Dobbs suspects that Spalding might be in on the thefts that sent Anna to prison. To help Dobbs, Perri rekindles the relationship to spy on him. In the meantime, Perri gets a job with a local photo shop and meets a traveling photographer named Philip.

Coobie comes to Atlanta for treatment. Though Dobbs' belief in God is wavering, Perri and her friends surround her, pray for her family and raise significant funds to pay Coobie's medical bills. Dobbs works through her anger over her father's youthful indiscretion, and her mother tells her that love and forgiveness have made it possible for them to carry on.

Coobie's condition improves after she's allowed to leave the hospital. Perri and Dobbs discover that Mr. Robinson, a friend of Perri's father, was the thief. Spalding was his accomplice. Robinson was also stealing money from Perri's father, causing the financial distress that led to his suicide. Anna is freed from prison. Dobbs rediscovers her faith in God and decides she can't live without Hank. Perri marries Philip, and they open a photography shop together.

Christian Beliefs

Dobbs initially sees her new Atlanta home as a mission field. She prays for Perri's family and Aunt Josie's servants. She often tells Perri and her friends how she's witnessed God's provision at tent meetings. She gives Perri a special book, which includes Scripture and uplifting quotes, that Hank gave her after she lost Jackie. The book helps build Perri's faith over time. Perri's younger brother asks if their father is in heaven. She says he is, but she wonders if it's so since he took his own life. Dobbs prays God will show himself to Perri in a way she can't help but believe. Perri later receives an old picture of herself sitting in her father's lap that makes her think of the security available through her heavenly Father. She believes it is the answer to Dobbs' prayer. Dobbs starts a Bible study, and several of Perri's friends attend.

Anna says God knows what He's doing by keeping her locked up and that He'll take care of her family. Anna's daughter disagrees, saying she thinks the Lord is taking a long nap.

Dobbs' father attributes the Great Depression to man's greed and God's judgment. Dobbs recalls many of her father's sermons about trusting God before seeking human help. She grew up hearing him preach against temptations — alcohol, cigarettes, dancing and movies. Her father said social dancing was the first and easiest step toward hell. Aunt Josie suggests her brother is an infidel for preaching to others but not providing well financially for his own family.

Dobbs remembers sitting by Jackie's deathbed reading Scripture. Jackie assures Dobbs she will be with the Lord soon. When Dobbs fears another of her sisters is dying, she tells God she hates Him and that He's not really good. Perri and her friends begin supporting Dobbs in prayer when she can't support herself. Dobbs' mother says love combined with forgiveness is the sweetest thing on earth, the crux of human relationships. She assures Dobbs that God doesn't promise life will be without pain, but He does promise He'll never leave us.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Dobbs' parents abandon the Atlanta social scene, choosing to hold tent meetings and serve the poor. What little they have, they usually give to the people attending their revivals. Dobbs' mother sticks by her father and forgives him even after the sins of his past come back to haunt the family. Aunt Josie still loves her brother and wants to help his family, despite the way he treated their parents as a young man. Mr. Robinson abuses his position as a friend and financial adviser to the Singletons by stealing money from them and offering deceitful advice.


Dobbs calls the daughter her father had with a prostitute a b--tard. Perri finds her father's lifeless body hanging from the rafters in the barn.


Spalding kisses Perri, sometimes a bit violently. She asks him to stop, but he says she'll like it because all the girls do. Dobbs goes to her first movie and is embarrassed to see scantily-clad dancers doing a striptease. Dobbs learns that her father had a wild past and fathered a child with a prostitute. Hank kisses Dobbs.

Discussion Topics

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

Additional Comments/Notes

Smoking/Drinking: Uncle Robert, Hank and other men smoke cigars. Mamma smokes a cigarette. Perri's father and his friends sip brandy while talking business.

Gambling: Mr. Robinson tells Perri's mother that her husband had been gambling. It turns out that Mr. Robinson was the gambler and had been pilfering money from the Singletons. He also stole valuables from other people in their circle to sell and fund his habit.

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!