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

Island Dreamer by Robin Jones Gunn has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fifth book in the “Christy Miller" series.

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

With her 16th birthday only a few days away, Christy Miller needs to practice driving to get her license, but she’s afraid. After crashing into a light pole in an empty parking lot, Christy worries she won’t pass the test. However, she is looking forward to spending the next two weeks with her best friend, Paula, who is coming to California for a visit. Although excited, Christy is disappointed that she won’t be spending her birthday with the boy she likes, Todd Spencer, since Todd will be in Maui helping Christy’s uncle fix up his two condos.

Once Paula arrives, she chatters about her plans to get a tan and a boyfriend while she’s in California. Christy finds that she is embarrassed by her friend’s words and, later, her dramatic antics. As the girls notice how much each has changed in the last year, Christy’s affluent Aunt Marti announces that the whole family and Paula will be going to Hawaii in two days.

Christy is excited to spend her birthday on a tropical island and be with Todd. Her excitement is short-lived, though, because once in Hawaii, Paula decides to pursue Todd herself. The two girls compete for Todd’s attention and squabble over their differences. Although Christy is jealous of Paula, Todd lets her know that he prefers her company.

By the end of the week, Christy realizes she needs to pray for Paula rather than compete against her. Eventually, Christy passes her driver's test, and Paula gives the credit for this to Christy's driving experience on the Hana Road. The girls are closer friends when Paula leaves than they were when she came, and Christy is sad to see her go.

Christian Beliefs

For the past year, Christy has been witnessing to Paula through letters. But when Paula arrives in California, she tells Christy to stop preaching at her and let her [Paula] make her own mistakes. When Christy’s friend Katie finds out about the surprise trip to Hawaii, she calls it a “God-thing.” Katie explains that a “God-thing” is when something happens in a person’s life that can’t be explained by any earthly means; it’s God working.

While in Hawaii, Christy and her mom tour the Baldwin Missionary Home and hear about the persecution of the early island missionaries. Christy is amazed that although the missionaries were attacked and ridiculed for the message they preached, they did not retaliate. Instead, they prayed for their enemies. Later, Christy decides to pray and ask God to help her not be jealous of Paula.

After they return to California, Christy apologizes for trying to force her friend to become a Christian. Paula responds by encouraging Christy to keep writing about God in her letters, but to let Paula decide for herself whether she wants to follow God.

After Paula returns home, Christy meets up with Alissa, a girl she met the previous summer. Over the last year, Alissa became pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl and chose to place her baby for adoption. She tells Christy that she wants to have the same kind of relationship with God that Christy and Todd have. The two girls pray, and Alissa asks God to come into her life.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Christy’s dad takes her to the church parking lot to practice for her driver’s test. At first, he teases her because of how slowly she drives. When the car hits a light pole, he yells at her, but he quickly changes his tone when he realizes that there is not a lot of damage. He encourages Christy to get right back in the driver’s seat and try again. When they return home, Christy’s mom tells her that she shouldn’t be disappointed if she’s not ready to take her driver’s test.

As the family is driving to the airport to pick up Paula, Christy’s mom yells at Christy and her younger brother, David, for fighting. Later, when Aunt Marti buys Paula a new bathing suit, Christy remembers what happened with her aunt the previous summer: Although Aunt Marti bought Christy whatever she wanted, every gift came with strings attached. That experience taught Christy that she would rather be content with what she had than to be under the control of her aunt.

Christy admires her dad because he is happy that the rest of the family is going to Hawaii, even though he has to stay home and work at the dairy farm. On their trip to Hana, Todd tells Christy a story about his dad. When Todd was 10 years old, his dad jumped off the Hana bridge into the water 60 feet below. He encouraged Todd and his friend Kimo to jump into the water, too. Kimo jumped, but Todd didn’t. Later, Todd’s dad told his son that he admired him for not jumping even when his friend did. It showed that Todd was able to make his own decisions.




When Paula finds out that Todd has only kissed Christy about five times, she immediately assumes that he is seeing someone else. If he liked Christy, he would have been more physically aggressive. Christy is the only other virgin Paula knows. All of her friends back home have slept with guys. Christy assures Paula that she will not sleep with a man until her wedding night. Paula is determined to lose her virginity while she’s in California.

When she arrives in Newport Beach, Paula buys a skimpy hot pink bikini during a shopping spree with Aunt Marti. Paula tells Christy’s mom that she’ll only wear the bikini while sunbathing and that she’ll wear her old one-piece bathing suit for swimming. However, she tries to leave her one-piece suit at Christy’s house before they go to Hawaii. Christy finds Paula’s bathing suit in the laundry and brings it to Maui, where she returns it to an upset Paula.

Before Paula leaves for home, she says she is going to take Todd's advice and hold out for a hero instead of settling for a guy who doesn't respect her. Later, Christy writes a letter to her future husband, telling him that she promises to save herself for him. Todd kisses Christy before he jumps off the Hana bridge.

Discussion Topics

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

Additional Comments/Notes

Deception: Paula and Christy miss their flight to Maui when Paula thinks she sees a celebrity and goes down the wrong hallway at the airport. When they finally find Christy’s mom, Paula tells her a dramatic story about a man who followed them and then tried to kidnap them. As a result of Paula’s tears, an airline attendant clears three seats for them on a different flight to Hawaii. Christy feels guilty, but Paula is happy that everything worked out well.

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

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

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


Robin Jones Gunn






Record Label



Bethany House Publishers, a division of the Baker Publishing Group


On Video

Year Published





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!