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

Not So Simple Life by Melody Carlson has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Diary of a Teenage Girl: Maya" 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

Fifteen-year-old Maya Stark, daughter of the famed '80s singer Nick Stark, lives with her alcoholic, drug-addicted mother. Her father, who is traveling the world to revive his career, has little idea of the struggles she faces or the depth of her desire to become emancipated from her family. Despite her disdain for the fashion industry, Maya lands several jobs in high-end retail and modeling. She plans to divorce herself from her parents and prove herself legally and financially worthy to become independent at age 16. Maya hits a turning point when her mother is arrested on drug charges, and her Uncle Allen and Cousin Kim invite her to live with them. In the comfort of their “normal” home, a depressed and suicidal Maya finds God and begins a new life serving Him.

Christian Beliefs

Maya's grandmother takes her to church when she's young, but Grandma Carolina's death leaves Maya angry and skeptical about God. Maya's cousin, Kim, and uncle, Allen, are Christians. Kim urges Maya to keep a journal, ask Jesus into her heart and begin meeting with the youth pastor's wife weekly. Kim's youth pastor encourages Maya's difficult questions about God and assures her He is big enough to handle them. Maya accepts Christ and discovers a sense of peace and belonging that she's not known before.

Other Belief Systems

When Maya does something nice for her photographers, she mentions feeling good, "kind of like karma." At the end of each of Maya's journal entries, she puts in a "green tip." Maya's a vegan and into saving the earth. Throughout the book, the author seems to have an environmental agenda. At the very end, Maya does come to the conclusion that God (the Creator of the earth) comes first, not the planet.

Authority Roles

Maya's mother, Shannon, is an alcoholic and a drug addict who frequently disappears for days at a time, fails to pay bills, physically and verbally abuses her daughter, squanders child support and steals the money Maya earns at her job. Maya's dad is too busy to be bothered by a teenage daughter, though he does step in to help when Shannon is arrested on drug charges. Maya's bosses in the fashion/modeling industry are harsh and snooty. Maya's uncle and older cousin, Kim, invite her into their home when she has nowhere else to go and offer kindness and patience — as well as God's love.


The word crap appears a few times.


A couple of the girls Maya meets in the fashion/modeling industry live with their boyfriends. Maya mentions that there are some sleazy people in the modeling industry who want to take advantage of young talent.

Discussion Topics

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

Additional Comments/Notes

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

16 to 18


Melody Carlson






Record Label



Multnomah Books


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!