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Playing with Fire: Secret Life of Samantha McGregor    by Melody Carlson order for
Playing with Fire
by Melody Carlson
Order:  USA  Can
Multnomah, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Jessica Weaver

Melody Carlson touches on topics relevant to teens easily: her popular Diary of a Teenage Girl series is known for not backing down from tough topics. This author of more than ninety books continues to face difficult issues in the Secret Life of Samantha McGregor.

The third installment, Playing with Fire, begins with Sam arranging a coming-home-from-rehab party for her older brother Zach. When she invites Zach's old friend Tate, he seems like a clean-cut addition to Zach's new, recovered life. Zach's resistance to seeing a counselor and participating in group therapy, however, may cast doubt on Sam's assumption that her brother has fully recovered from his meth addiction - and his friendship with Tate doesn't seem to be helping at all.

Meanwhile, drugs seems to be the it word at Sam's high school. At a party where her best friend Olivia is singing, Sam, Olivia, and their friend Garrett are busted for having drugs in the backseat of the car - to their complete surprise. One of Olivia's bandmates is kicked out of the group for using weed at a party. And Sam doesn't know what to make of the new girl in their class, Felicity, about whom she has a scary vision.

Sam's gift of visions from God haunts her throughout this novel. What should she do when she can't make sense of these dreams and visions? Should she tell Olivia or her mom about her fears for Zach? As she becomes more entrenched in the work for the police force and less able to communicate with her friends, Sam's world is whipped into confusion, and it all seems to do with the rampant drug use in Brighton.

Melody Carlson does not disappoint in her quick-paced storytelling. Playing with Fire is another great teen read from the prolific Christian author.

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