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Bad Connection (The Secret Life Samantha McGregor, Book 1) Paperback – August 15, 2006

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Bad Connection (The Secret Life Samantha McGregor, Book 1) + Beyond Reach (The Secret Life Samantha McGregor, Book 2) + Playing with Fire (The Secret Life Samantha McGregor, Book 3)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books (August 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590526929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590526927
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Melody Carlson has published more than one hundred books for children, teens, and adults - with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestseller's List. Several of her books have been finalists for and winners of various writing awards. Her Diary of a Teenage Girl series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail. Melody has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping, and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One
The wipers slap furiously, whipping back and forth like wild things, but the windshield remains a murky puddle before my eyes. I lean forward and push my chest against the steering wheel as I try to see what’s ahead. The curving road is pitch-black—dark and shiny—and the blindingly bright headlights of the vehicle tailgating me don’t help.
Why did I take this road? And why am I driving so late at night? I adjust my rearview mirror to subdue the lights, and then I step on the gas in an attempt to outrun the impatient jerk. Or maybe I should just pull over. But where?
Just when I think I’ve lost my tailgater, a truck barrels down the road toward me, its lights glaring straight into my already compromised vision. The wimpy wipers don’t help
at all, and I can barely see as I start to brake because it looks like the truck has crossed the centerline into my lane. It feels like he’s hurtling straight toward me—a headon
about to happen!
I jerk the steering wheel to the right and swerve off the road, hitting the gravel shoulder at about fifty miles an hour and totally out of control. Then in the same split second, certain that my car is about to dive into the steep ditch and roll, I crank my steering wheel back to the left and careen across both lanes of the highway, crashing straight through the end of the guardrail, almost as if it’s not even there.
There’s this moment of eerie silence as my car, free of gravity, plunges into thin air and total darkness. But when it lands, it’s like an explosion. And the jolt to my body is shocking then numbing. I can’t breathe. It feels as if someone has a pillow over my face, and my chest and head ache from the impact. Something cold and wet creeps up my legs like the fingers of death. I try to kick whatever it is away, but my legs are pinned to the seat, unable to move.
I free my arms in an attempt to fight off this thing that’s suffocating me, but it seems to deflate just as quickly as it came—the airbag. I peer through my shattered windshield. My left headlight illuminates what appears to be water running swiftly all around me. And I remember, yes, the Willamette River runs along this stretch of country road.
My car’s not fully submerged in the river yet, although the front end is partially in the water. But I feel the car shift, as if the wheels aren’t on solid ground. I force the gear into reverse, hoping that I can back up, but the movement makes the car lurch forward. I prepare myself to be swallowed by the river. Stuck in this car, my death trap. How long does it take a vehicle to sink? How long does it take to drown?
A new rush of adrenaline hits me. I’m not ready to give up. I push the button for the electric windows, but they don’t budge. I attempt to force open the door, but it’s stuck tight. Even if I got it open, I can’t free my legs from whatever pins them down.
The water’s up to my waist now and numbingly cold. Or have I lost all feeling in the lower half of my body? I’m not sure if it’s the dashboard pressed down against my thighs. Or maybe it’s the engine. I don’t know. But I know that I’m trapped.
It seems almost silly, but it’s as if time stands still, and I begin to analyze how I got to this place. I made a bad decision tonight. I didn’t have to take this road. But don’t we all make bad decisions sometimes? Why this? Why me? Why now?
I look up and catch my reflection in the cockeyed rearview mirror. But it’s not my face I see. I blink then stare back into the mirror. Who is this woman staring back at me? At first she seems old, maybe fortysomething, and then she seems young, like my age. Finally I realize that it’s not me at all—it’s my friend Kayla Henderson. Her blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and her dark brown eyes are full of fear with tears streaming down her cheeks. An image of pure terror and desperation.
And that’s when I wake up.
My heart still pounds frantically as I sit up in my bed and look around, making sure that I’m still in my own room, safe and warm and dry. I wiggle my toes. Just fine. Nothing to be afraid of. It was only a dream…just a dream. But an unusual dream. What does it mean?
I glance at the clock. It’s 5:31 and too early to get up. But going back to sleep seems unlikely too. So I turn on the light by my bed and, out of habit, reach for my Bible, opening it to a very familiar section marked with a red ribbon.
Oh, I know these words already. My dad was the first one to read this portion of Scripture to me, back when I had my first unusual dream. And it was Dad who encouraged me to memorize this Scripture as well as others. “Write them in your heart,” he’d said. My dad seemed to be the one person who really got me back then, back when this whole thing seemed to start up. But it comforted me to know that he seemed to understand and even respect what he called my “gift.”
So I read this Scripture now, hearing the words almost as if Dad were here right beside me, quietly whispering them to me.
And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God,
and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass
afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall
see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will
I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:27–29, KJV)
“That’s exactly what God is doing in you, Samantha,” Dad told me the first time I proudly recited this Scripture.
“What do you mean?” I asked, although I felt fairly sure that I knew.
 “God’s pouring out His Spirit on you. Giving you visions and dreams.”
“But why? Why did God pick me?”
Dad just smiled. “He must’ve known that you have the right kind of heart, honey. And He designed you in such a way that you could handle something of this magnitude. Just trust Him.”
I close my Bible as well as my eyes, trying to remember the details of the dream that just interrupted my sleep. Why does it seem unusual? Was it supposed to mean something?
Some kind of message? Was it really from God?
I get out of bed and walk back and forth in my room, running over the events of the dream, trying to sort it out, to discern whether it’s something to be dismissed or something I should pay attention to. I mean, sometimes I have dreams that are simply dreams. Other times…well, those are different.
Obviously my dream involved a car wreck. It was nighttime, and the car went into the Willamette River. And it seemed like Kayla Henderson was involved. Is it possible that Kayla was driving? That she’s been involved in a real accident? That could explain why she’s been missing these past few days. Maybe her car is sitting on the bottom of the
river right now. Or maybe I’m just blowing this all out of proportion. Sometimes I wonder why God can’t just get a loudspeaker or a TV series or a big billboard that would grab everyone’s attention and just make Himself perfectly clear.
Yet even as I try to make light of this, the chilling thought of poor Kayla being the victim of a horrible accident, sitting pinned in a car at the bottom of a river, sends a serious shiver down my spine. I pull on my sweatshirt, stick my feet into my UGGs, and go out to the kitchen, where I turn on the lights and start to make a pot of coffee.
My mom always appreciates it when I do this, not that I do it too often, but I nearly drop the glass coffee carafe when I hear the deep sound of a man’s voice talking behind me. I almost think that it’s God. But I turn to see that it’s only the TV.
Sometimes when my mom’s feeling extra stressed, she’ll set it to turn on at six in the morning. She calls it her “gentle” alarm clock. Although the tone of this dude’s voice feels anything but gentle. Still, he’s got my attention, and I stand there holding the half-filled coffee carafe as I listen.
“Breaking news near Fremont early this morning,” he says in an urgent voice. “Forty-six-year-old Cindy James lost control of her Nissan on wet roads, crashing through the guardrail and plummeting thirty feet into the Willamette River shortly before midnight last night. The accident occurred just five miles south of Fremont. Fortunately for Ms. James, two other drivers witnessed the wreck and immediately called 911. Gary Forsythe of Gresham and Hank Burns of eastern Washington scaled the steep riverbank to see the car partially submerged in the turbulent waters. Swift-thinking Burns then managed to return to his truck to get a chain and a rope, which the two men were able to secure to a nearby tree and her bumper, preventing the small car from being completely submerged and swept away by the current.”
As he describes the wreck, some footage is being shown, and it seems very similar to how it was in my dream. Although the perspective is different. And there’s another thing. Instead of Kayla Henderson in the driver’s seat, it seems it was this Cindy James person. They show a photo of someone I’ve never seen before. Or maybe it’s the person I got a glimpse of just before I saw Kayla.
But now I question whether I really did see Kayla. Maybe I just imagined it was her because I’ve felt so concerned about her ...

More About the Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Time's Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
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See all 16 customer reviews
It's a real page turner!
Erin Bennett
The first concern that anyone might have in reading this story is the use of the spiritual gift of receiving visions from God.
S. Stevenson
I would highly recommend this book for teens.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. Stevenson VINE VOICE on January 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's hard to find the perfect balance in teen fiction, where there is the right amount of realism, a strong dose of God that isn't cheesy or over the top, and suspense / action to keep things going. Melody Carlson is nobody new to the world of teen books, having already put out three other wildly successful series (TrueColors, Notes From A Spinning Planet, and Diary of a Teenage Girl), and with Bad Connection, book one in The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor series, Carlson does not disappoint.

In Bad Connection, we find Samantha McGregor, a high school girl whose father is dead, mother wants nothing to do with Christianity, and a brother who is constantly in and out of trouble with the law. Samantha is the only one in her family holding on to God, and that's when she receives a vision. A girl from school, Kayla, disappeared a week ago, and now Samantha thinks she's seeing clues from God about her whereabouts. Samantha has to work with her dad's old partner, Ebony Hamilton, to unravel the clues and find Kayla before it's too late.

The first concern that anyone might have in reading this story is the use of the spiritual gift of receiving visions from God. I was a little nervous going in to the story, but found myself pleasantly surprised with the care and Biblical use of the gift that Carlson portrays here. She even includes an article from John Piper's Desiring God talking about visions, how it was used in the Bible, and to be careful about just trusting a dream or feelings, but to turn to the Bible to find guidance from God. Parents who are extremely concerned may want to read the book for themselves first to see what they might think.

As this is a series for teens, there are some rather dark moments in the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katrina L. Burchett VINE VOICE on May 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Samantha McGregor is a teenage (sixteen, soon to be seventeen) Christian who has dreams and visions given to her by God. Her father understood her gift and tried to help her understand it, but now he's gone; the parent who took her gift seriously died when she was twelve. Her mother isn't comfortable with this gift from God. In fact, she's not sure Samantha's ability to see visions is something God has anything to do with. Is Samantha weird or crazy or simply a vessel God is using?

There was quite a bit I liked about Samantha: She wasn't ashamed to carry her Bible to school and she even pulled it out of her backpack, opened it and read from it not caring what anyone thought. She did not hesitate to go to God in prayer when she needed help or someone else needed help or she had questions. She had no problem praying in front of peers who weren't Christians. Even though she wasn't sure she wanted this gift that she wasn't always sure how to use, she cared more about what her heavenly Father wanted. And finding a boyfriend wasn't her main focus.

It was nice to see teen characters praying with and for each other and the author did a good job showing the life of a young Christian learning how to develop her spiritual gift and how to trust God whenever she began to have doubts.

There was something that disappointed me. Like other Christian novels I have read, this one contradicts God's Word at one point: On page 36 is the sentence - Kayla actually used to be a Christian. There is no "used to be" in Christianity... And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30 New Living Translation). Once saved, always saved.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Dieleman on December 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Wow I have never read a book that is like this, it is really amazing. It is about a young 16 year old girl names Sam who has dreams about people. The weird part is they come true. It really starts to freak Sam out. When her friend goes missing Sam thinks that it is no big deal. Then she starts having the dreams. I loved this book. It was full of adventure and fun. It also talked about nornal teenage things like boys and family. A must read for anyone who is already a fan of Melody Carlson!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jenn on March 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great Christian book and has allot about god. My favorite part was at the end of the book because that's were it got interesting to me. I suggest every one to read it. It really will bring out the Christian inside you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JesusJuice on January 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was absolutely blown away by this book I couldn't put it down. In Bad Connection we find Samantha MacGregor a young girl whose father was killed in the line of duty. Her mother wants nothing to do with God or Christianity, even though her father was a Christian. And her brother is constantly in trouble with the law. Samantha is the only one holding up her family. And holding onto God. And that's when she receives her first vision. A girl from her school Kayla disappeared a week ago. And now Samantha thinks God is giving her visions and clues as to where Kayla might be. Samantha teams up with her dads old partner Ebony Hamilton, the one he was trying to protect and got shot for. Clues begin to unravel as her and Ebony try to find Kayla before its too late.
Now some of you out there might not believe in spiritual gifts. But after reading this story you might want to strongly reconsider. Because Melody Carlson introduces spiritual gifts and has a biblical context to it.
Read this book, you will love and you won't want to put it down.
There are some frightening elements to this book and there are some things you might want to discuss with your teenager before you let them read this book. But I guarantee you will like this book.
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