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Beyond Reach: The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor    by Melody Carlson order for
Beyond Reach
by Melody Carlson
Order:  USA  Can
Multnomah, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Jessica Weaver

This second book in The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor series (following Bad Connection) is a first-person narrative from a Christian teen with some interesting problems.

First, her dad was killed and her brother is in drug rehab, leaving her to cope alone with a depressed mother who had lost her faith. Second, Sam is taking chemistry this semester and has not a clue what is going on. And last but not least, God gives Samantha visions and dreams to help her help others. While she finds this awesome and uses the gift to help the police, she is frightened of sharing it with anyone other than her best friend, Olivia.

Melody Carlson, author of over a hundred books for adults and teens, highlights an interesting spiritual gift and spins an involved story at the same time. Samantha and Olivia are extremely devout and prayerful Christians, and Carlson tells us every time they pray, which can be a bit tedious to the story. However, the narrative follows Sam's train of thought, and prayer seems to be the most prominent thought in her mind.

This exciting story follows Sam as she works on the case of Peter Clark with her detective friend, Ebony. Solved several years ago and marked as a suicide, Ebony now has doubts that the Clark case was resolved the right way. Will God give Sam any new insights on the case? Meanwhile, Sam tries to befriend her geeky lab partner and a whole new twist ensues.

This teen mystery is fun and definitely unique. Carlson is brave to provide her main characters with such a gift, and uses both an author's note and appendix to discuss the spiritual gift of visions and dreams. I commend her on a great read for teenage Christians.

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