Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Review: One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Title: One For the Murphys
Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin)
ARC, 224 pages
Date Published: May 10, 2012
Source: Author/Publisher
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
A moving debut novel about a foster child learning to open her heart to a family's love

Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong--until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future.
Carly Connors is a beaten down, jaded, kind of bitter, but truly sweet girl. She’s had a rough life, gone through more than any child should, and starts off the story by heading to a foster home. These are all things that many middle grade readers cannot relate to, but then we see the kind Carly who has a knack for the sarcastic and who loves making the two little boys she moves in with happy.

Throughout Carly’s time with the Murphy’s, we see every side there is to her: She’s young and vulnerable, so we see her cry; she’s tough and has had to grow up far too fast, so she’s smart and independent; she could easily be closed off because how she’s been treated in the past, but slowly, she opens up. Her relationship with Mrs. Murphy is the backbone of the book and incredibly touching. Carly grows to love this mother figure that she never really had before.

Carly’s relationship with her schoolmate, Toni, has all kinds of wonderful parallels to her own life and teaches her more than one lesson, but it never comes off as preachy. There was not one moment in the book that I could imagine a middle grade reader becoming frustrated with. The pace and the tone of the book remain constant throughout and the entire story comes off as realistic. Toni’s obsession with Wicked is also a nice touch.

Any Bostonian will appreciate the little nods to the Red Sox. I know I enjoyed it, along with Mr. Murphy’s true Sox fan attitude toward the Yankees. His reaction to Toni’s taunting help to lighten the mood. Because with such a deep and emotional subject matter, One For the Murphys does have its tearjerker moments. It would be wise to have a box of tissues handy, especially towards the end.

One For the Murphys is a heartfelt, heartbreaking, subtle, and beautifully realistic show of one girl’s journey from broken home to finding out what family means. The characters have so much depth and readers will find themselves thoroughly attached to Carly Connors and the entire Murphy family. Lynda Mullaly Hunt has masterfully taken the subject of fostering and opened it up to a new audience. Carly’s story has its ups and downs (remember those tissues!), but the ending is perfectly bittersweet.

Opening line: Sitting in the back of the social worker’s car, I try to remember how my mother has always said to never show your fear. ~ pg. 1

Favorite line/passages: When we get back to the Murphys’, Michael Eric flashes his crooked baby teeth and throws up his arms. “Carley! You’re my hero!” He leaps.

     In my guts, I leap too. ~ pg. 149 

*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy  

4.5 for sure!

*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Lynda Mullaly Hunt online:

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Lynda Mullaly Hunt said...

Hey, Nikki! Wicked awesome review--thanks so much! It is an honor to be on your tremendous blog. Thanks so much! (GO SOX!! :-)

Paige said...

I loved this book and I love your review too! I agree with you about the Sox thing I thought that was pretty cool and I was always laughing when I read the part where they bickered back and forth it makes me think of my neighbors when I was younger. They were Yankees fans so when they won that last world series we snuck over and decorated there whole house in red sox stuff =) Lol don't get the wrong idea we were great friends and we had the key to there house so it's not like we snuck in =) Anyways awesome review!

~Paige @ Comfort Books

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