Bad Connection (The Secret Life Samantha McGregor) Melody Carlson
I don't read much Christian fiction and many of the Christian fiction readers that I work with don't want anything supernatural or fantasy because it conflicts with how they practice their faith--to the point where I've had long conversations saying that yes, it was OK for a Christian school to assign The Chronicles of Narnia. (It's about Jesus! I promise!)
So, imagine my surprise when I find out that Samantha McGregor is about a girl who receives visions of the future from God. Both Carlson (via author note) and Samantha (via text) are very careful to say that she is NOT psychic and that these visions are from God, complete with scriptural text to provide back-up that it could happen.
In this book, Samantha's friend has gone missing. She's run away before, but Samantha has seen visions to lead her to believe that this isn't a case Kayla running away from home, that something much more sinister is going on. Samantha can't control the visions and doesn't necessarily want the burden of such a gift, but maybe she can use them to help save her friend.
I'm always a little wary of Christian fiction because I've been really turned off with some explorations of faith in that "all people who don't agree with my view on religion are fundamentally evil, evil people and will all go to Hell. The End." (Left Behind, I'm looking at you) Also, I just have a lot of general angst about being non-Christian in a rather Christian environment. But, I really enjoyed Carlson's very personal (to the character) approach in the way religion was dealt with in how each character approaches his or her faith (or lack thereof). Samantha and her more religious friends got some good-natured ribbing for praying at lunch, but in general their faith was respected, and, at the same time, Samantha didn't condemn those around her who didn't believe. This makes the book much more realistic (at least in my experience with my very observant friends).
The mystery/adventure was also very enjoyable completely separate from the religious aspects, but I loved the explorations of Samantha's struggles with her gifts, and with God for giving them to her/saddling her with them.
Book Provided by... my library
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