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 coming-of-age novel by Judy Blume is published by Yearling Books, an imprint of Random House Books for Young Readers, and is written for kids ages 10 to 14 years. 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

Eleven-year-old Tony Miglione likes living with his family in Jersey City. He has hard-working parents, a brother who teaches junior high and a sister-in-law with a baby on the way. (His oldest brother died in Vietnam before the story starts.) Grandma, mute after cancer of the larynx, joyfully cooks for the family.

The Migliones' financial worries end suddenly when Dad sells his invention, an electrical cartridge, to an electronics company. Tony, his parents and grandma move to a large home on Long Island. Tony gets involved with a youth basketball team at his local Catholic church and meets Joel, who lives next door. Tony discovers he can watch Joel's 16-year-old sister, Lisa, through his window and hers, as she changes her clothes. Tony's voyeurism becomes his favorite activity.

Overall, life on Long Island makes Tony anxious. Mom becomes increasingly concerned with appearances and social standing. She defers to the new maid who insists Grandma stay out of the kitchen. Grandma becomes depressed and rarely leaves her bedroom. Ralph quits his teaching job to work for Dad, which Tony sees as "selling out."

Joel repeatedly shoplifts in front of Tony, and Tony wrestles with his conscience about whether to report the boy. On top of everything else, Tony's hormonal changes plague him. He starts having wet dreams and getting erections, even in class. Overwhelmed with unanswered questions and unspoken concerns, Tony begins to have stress-induced stomach problems.

After witnessing one of Joel's shoplifting sprees, Tony's stomach pains cause him to collapse on the sidewalk. He's hospitalized and tested for medical problems. The physicians find nothing and refer him to a psychologist named Dr. Fogel. With Dr. Fogel, Tony is finally able to speak openly about his stress and confusion. He begins to learn to deal with his anxiety and the changes in life.

Christian Beliefs

Tony's grandma makes frequent visits to the Catholic church in Jersey City. She ceases to attend church after she becomes depressed in their new home. A priest on Long Island still visits her several times and checks in on the rest of the family. Tony gets involved with the church's youth group. He goes to confession once a month, and he's on the church basketball team that plays games against other denominations.

Other Belief Systems

Dad feels the family is getting lucky when things start going their way financially. Joel's maid says God is going to punish Joel for giving her so much grief.

Authority Roles

Tony's mom becomes so obsessed with the opinions of her wealthy neighbors that she fails to consider the needs and feelings of family members — Grandma and Tony, in particular. Grandma becomes depressed once Mom bans her from the kitchen, but she still encourages Tony through his struggles. Dad's discomfort with the topic of sex prevents him from offering much help or information to his struggling son. Joel thinks about talking to his youth group leader about his sexual curiosity until he learns the leader is dating Lisa. Joel's parents are rarely around, leaving Joel and Lisa to get into trouble on several occasions. Dr. Fogel listens and allows Tony to talk through his concerns and questions.

Profanity/Violence

The Lord's name is used in vain several times. Tony's sister-in-law hires a nanny once her child is born. The nanny's name is Mrs. Buttfield, but Tony calls her "the Butt."

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Tony's brother and sister-in-law announce they're pregnant. Tony says he knows he shouldn't think about what you have to do to get someone pregnant, but sometimes he can't help it. In Jersey City, Tony's mother sells women's underwear at a department store. He says she watches women try on underwear all day and that he'd like to do that.

After moving to Long Island, Tony frequently spies on Lisa and watches her change clothes. For Christmas, Tony asks for binoculars under the guise of a newfound interest in bird watching. In reality, he wants to get a better view of Lisa. He has wet dreams involving her and fears his parents or the housekeeper will know. Dad tries to have a sex talk with Tony, in which Tony informs Dad he's knows how babies are made. Dad asks Tony if he's sure the friend who told him gave him the right information. Tony says yes, and Dad is satisfied. Dad assures Tony, unconvincingly, that he's there to answer any questions the boy has. He gives Tony a book called Basic Facts About Sex. A gym teacher tells the boys about wet dreams, which he calls nocturnal emissions.

Tony gets an erection at school while standing at the board doing a math problem. He tries to buy time and calm himself down. He finally walks back to his seat carrying a book in front of him. He usually prefers to wear a specific raincoat because it covers his genital area and prevents embarrassment.

Tony goes to confession once a month. He decides he doesn't need to mention watching Lisa because it's not a sin if he's not really hurting anyone. Tony sees Lisa kissing his youth group leader and finds out they're dating. He's disappointed and has dreams about the things they probably do when they're alone together. Mom kisses Dad when he sells his invention, and his sister-in-law kisses Tony on the cheek.

Discussion Topics

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

Parents may wish to discuss the normal physical changes kids undergo during puberty and how to deal with them in a God-honoring manner.

  • What are some ways Tony's family members change after they become rich?
  • How does Tony feel about these changes? In what ways does he believe his family members are "selling out"?
  • How would you feel if you were him, and what would you do if you suddenly had lots of money?
  • What does the Bible say about money and wealth?

  • How do Tony's anxieties and fears affect his everyday life?

  • What finally helps him handle them better?
  • Who can you talk to when you're feeling sad, confused or worried?

  • What kind of a friend is Joel?

  • How does his behavior impact Tony?
  • Which of your friends make you a better person?
  • Which cause you stress or push you toward negative choices?

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Joel gives Tony beer, vodka, scotch, rye and brandy from his dad's stash. The boys drink too much and throw up in the bushes. Tony has a horrible headache the next morning. Another day, the smell of his dad's boss's brandy almost makes Tony sick.

Theft: Joel repeatedly steals from stores and the school cafeteria. It bothers Tony immensely, but he's afraid to say anything.

Smoking: Dad smokes cigars. His brother offers one to Tony after his nephew is born. Mom objects, and Tony says he wasn't about to smoke one anyway because they stink. Lisa smokes cigarettes.

Lying: When Dad's boss calls to ask if he's still sick, Tony continues the lie Dad started and says Dad is getting better. Dad is actually working on and marketing his invention. Tony tells his sister-in-law that her baby is pretty. He thinks it's better to tell a little lie than to tell the truth and have everyone hate you. Tony lies, telling Lisa that his grandma's cancer of the larynx was caused by her excessive smoking. In reality, Grandma never smoked.

Other rude behavior: Led by Joel, Tony and his friends frequently leave a waitress's tip in the bottom of half-empty milkshake glasses. They back off after she yells at them, and they realize they've been compromising her dignity. Joel frequently makes prank phone calls. He invites Tony to come over and read Lisa's diary.


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!