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 futuristic, coming-of-age book by Rebecca Stead is published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books (a division of Random House, Inc.), and is written for kids ages 9 to 14 years old. 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

Miranda, a sixth-grader in the late 1970s, lives with her mother in a run-down New York apartment. Mom's boyfriend, Richard, spends much of his time with them. A latch-key kid, Miranda always walks home from school cautiously, particularly trying to avoid an insane old vagrant who hangs out near her building. Because of his crazy cackling, she and Mom refer to him as the laughing man.

When Miranda's best buddy, Sal, gets punched by another boy for no apparent reason, Sal abruptly ends his friendship with Miranda. Then Miranda starts getting strange notes. The anonymous writer says he's coming to save her friend's life and his own, and he needs Miranda to write a letter for him. The notes frighten Miranda, partly because they correctly predict future events, such as the date her mom appears as a contestant on "$20,000 Pyramid."

Miranda develops new friendships with classmates Annemarie (who has also "broken up" with her best friend, Julia) and Colin. Later, she meets Marcus, the boy who punched Sal. Seeing a copy of A Wrinkle in Time that Miranda always carries, Marcus provides thought-provoking commentary on the book. As they discuss the plausibility of time travel, Miranda realizes Marcus isn't mean, but he is extremely intelligent.

On her way home one day, Miranda sees Sal running from Marcus. Sal runs into traffic and is nearly hit. The laughing man kicks Sal out of the way and dies in his place. She finally realizes the laughing man, who is actually Marcus as an old man, sent her the notes. He has come back from the future to save Sal's life. Miranda's job is to write a letter to present-day Marcus, explaining the events that will transpire and reminding him to return to the past when he discovers how to travel through time.

Christian Beliefs

The driver who almost hits Sal repeatedly cries, "Thank God," when he realizes the boy is fine.

Other Belief Systems

Mom's appearance on "$20,000 Pyramid" falls on the same day as Richard's birthday, and Mom thinks that may be a good omen. In a school assembly, Miranda tries to use her brain waves to make Sal turn around and look at her. She ponders the world millions of years ago and the evolution of it since then, including how animals became people. Mom says people walk around with invisible veils over their faces, and that at certain critical moments, the veils are lifted, and everything becomes clear. She says it isn't due to magic or God or angels, but it's because people get distracted by little things and ignore the big ones.

Miranda and Marcus discuss Einstein's theory of relativity in relation to time travel and events that take place in A Wrinkle in Time. By the end of the book, Marcus proves that time travel is a possibility and that the end of something can come before its beginning (time-wise).

Authority Roles

Mom, who was unable to finish her law degree because she became pregnant with Miranda, is a secretary for a law office. The more she hates her job, the more she steals office supplies. A concerned parent and compassionate individual, Mom volunteers with pregnant, incarcerated women, and her law firm, for which Richard also works, often provides free legal aid to the poor.

Richard, a lawyer, is a loving companion for Mom and father figure for Miranda. Miranda doesn't understand why her mother won't let him have a key to their apartment. Miranda never knew her own father, and she says you can't really miss something you never had. She doesn't hold any grudges against her father, though she blames him for her flat brown hair. Jimmy, the temperamental owner of a restaurant near their school, pays Colin, Annemarie and Miranda in sandwiches to work at his shop. They finally quit when he makes racially bigoted comments about Julia, who is black.

Profanity/Violence

Miranda says her mother calls something "a whole different bucket of poop," but that Mom doesn't use the word "poop." H--- and darn appear a few times. The Lord's name is taken in vain a few times, too. Mom drops something in the kitchen, and Miranda hears a bunch of cursing, though no actual swear words appear in the text.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Mom fears change, so she refuses to give Richard a key to her apartment. She's also nervous about letting him move in or accepting his offer of marriage. After her win on "$20,000 Pyramid," she gives him a key. The text also implies that he stays the night. Miranda mentions that she has kissed Colin a few times and that another boy kissed Annemarie.

Discussion Topics

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

  • Why does Sal stop talking to Miranda?
  • How does Miranda handle his rejection?
  • How is the relationship between Sal and Miranda like the one between Annemarie and Julia?
  • Have you ever lost a friend or seen your friendship with someone change?
  • What did you do?
  • What are some healthy ways to bounce back after you face friendship problems?

  • Who are some of the people in this book with unique physical or mental characteristics? (Richard has one leg shorter than the other; the laughing man seems crazy; Marcus is a quirky genius.)

  • What makes them "different"?
  • How are they treated or looked on by others?
  • How does God want you to treat those who may have special needs, mental illnesses, or other characteristics?
  • Was Miranda's mom right to urge her to be cautious about the laughing man and other strangers?
  • Why or why not?

  • Why does Miranda stop hating Julia?

  • Why does she help Julia rebuild her friendship with Annemarie?
  • What traits of a good friend does Julia show, despite her brash behavior?
  • Why does Miranda become Alice's bathroom partner?
  • What suddenly causes her to be more considerate of others' feelings?

  • Have you read A Wrinkle in Time?

  • If so, what role did it play in this book?
  • Why is it significant to the events in this story?

  • What compels Marcus to return to the past?

  • Why is he willing to risk his own life to save Sal?

  • Why does Miranda's mom help women who are pregnant and in jail?

  • What does she hope to accomplish?
  • Do you agree with her belief that she can help them become less hard and feel more like people again?
  • Why is her work important?
  • How can you help people who have made mistakes realize that God allows second chances?

  • What clues does the author give about the person writing the notes to Miranda?

  • Did you figure who had written them, or did the ending surprise you?

Additional Comments/Notes

Nudity: The school shuts down its off-campus lunch policy a few times when a naked man is seen running down a nearby street. Miranda also thinks she sees a flickering image of a naked man standing near the laughing man. She ultimately realizes it was Marcus (as the laughing man) on one of his earlier time travel trips, practicing for his stay in New York. Time travel allows one to bring very little, including clothing.

Lying: Colin lies about where he's been when he is snooping through Jimmy's things. The school dentist lies to help hide Marcus when the police are after him.

Stealing: Colin takes bread from Jimmy's restaurant, but he says he wouldn't take money because that would be stealing. The laughing man steals Jimmy's bank full of $2 bills. Mom pilfers office supplies from work.


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

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

9 to 14

Author

Rebecca Stead

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books (a division of Random House, Inc.)

Released

On Video

Year Published

2010

Awards

Newbery Award, 2010; The New York Times Notable Book, 2009; Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books, 2009; Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year, 2009

Reviewer

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!