Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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Playing With Fire
by Melody Carlson

Reviewed by Darcie Gudger

"...exposes the disturbing reality of drug abuse ... Melody Carlson uses great care in presenting Samantha's controversial gift."

The drug plague hits close to home for Samantha McGregor in book three of the Secret Life of Samantha McGregor series by Melody Carlson.

Sam’s older brother Zach has just been released from a ninety-day rehab program. Excited about Zach’s new life, she reconnects him with his former buddy Tate Mitchell hoping a close friendship would keep him out of trouble.

A terrifying vision of a burning cabin wakes Sam in the middle of the night. The cabin explodes hurling a body through a plate glass window. Details are sparse so Sam assumes her vision is more of a warning rather than a foretelling.

Classmates bored with alcohol and weed are seeking radical highs from radical drugs. Sam is worried. She’s seen what drugs did to Zach. A conversation with Ebony, a detective with the local police department, results in her taking on an undercover assignment. She’s to find out who is using hard drugs and spy on them, feeding info to the police. Sam becomes a narc.

Sam’s world is rocked when the vision of the exploding cabin returns. This time there’s a body lying facedown in the snow. Not with burn or glass injuries, but a gunshot wound!

Can Samantha and Ebony unravel the clues from her visions in time to keep the nightmare from becoming reality?

Playing with Fire exposes the disturbing reality of drug abuse. Drugs today do more than create a false sense of euphoria; they kill. A fact every parent of a middle or high school kid needs to acknowledge and act upon. Carlson’s book provides a context for conversation between mothers and daughters.

Teen girls can relate with Sam in a lot of ways – but she seems a bit too put together for the trials in her life. If her age weren’t disclosed, I’d think she was a life-wizened forty-something.

I’d like to see her fall off the good-girl pedestal. The relationship between her and Conrad is too idealistic. Olivia is too perfect a friend. Samantha’s faith is strong enough to pull her through moral failures and she’s the kind of character that has tremendous power to influence readers and show them how to get right with God and move forward.

Melody Carlson uses great care in presenting Samantha’s controversial gift. Debate rages on in America if such a thing are possible. God is God, He can use whatever He wants for His glory. Samantha doesn’t abuse her gift. In many ways she doesn’t think of it as a gift because the responsibilities heaped on her are huge for a teenager. She’s learned to seek God’s wisdom when interpreting her dreams

Haven’t read Bad Connection or Beyond Reach? No worries. The books stand alone, but trust me, you’ll find yourself off to the bookstore handing the clerk some plastic for the first two books after reading Playing with Fire.

Darcie Gudger is a freelance writer currently working on a young adult novel while trying to solve all the mysteries of motherhood with her adopted son, Kyle. In her spare time, she coaches the 2A Colorado State Champion Sheridan High School colorguard, judged equipment for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association and sings for the Bear Valley church choir and worship team. An adventure-seeker who lives and writes in the shadow of the Rocky mountains, Darcie loves hiking, camping, cycling, photography and keeping her husband guessing. Visit Darcie online at her blog, Joy in the Litterbox.