|TITLE: One for the Murphys AUTHOR: Lynda Mullaly Hunt|
PUB: Penguin PUB DATE: 5/10/12
FORMAT: ARC, 224 pages
SOURCE: from pub in exchange for an honest review
A moving debut novel about a foster child learning to open her heart to a family's loveCarley 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.
THREE WORDS: Utterly Breathtaking & Touching
MY REVIEW: Six pages into One for the Murphys and I was laughing out loud and already connecting with the main character. Twelve pages in and I was already in tears. From beginning to end, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, has crafted a truly engrossing and gorgeous middle grade read.
Twelve year old Carley is wise beyond her years and has to be. Her mother can be fun and loving, but also unstable and selfish. After a violent encounter with her stepfather, Carley’s mother ends up in the hospital and Carley ends up in foster care. The Murphys, with their cozy home, family dinners and devoted parents offer Carley a world she never knew existed and kind of scares her. But the longer she stays, the more this family works their way into Carley’s heart and the more they show Carley just how special she really is. But Carley knows this is only a stop on the journey of her regained life.
Every once in a while a book comes along and captures me, heart; mind and soul, so completely and One for the Murphys is that book. This MG read is so beautifully moving, compellingly honest and breathtakingly palpable, with an unforgettable story and characters that will stay with readers for a long time.
This is a quick read, but Hunt makes every sentence, every word count. Told from Carley’s perspective, Hunt has perfectly captured her young sarcastic, vulnerable and witty voice. There’s a great deal of serious topics being explored in this book (physical and emotional abuse, child neglect, self-esteem issues, bullying) and Hunt infuses a wonderful mix of sensitivity, thought-provoking honesty and humor into this exploration.
There’s a fabulous lot of engaging and well-developed characters! Carley is such a superbly crafted character that is complexly layered, yet easy to connect with. Her sarcastic, dry sense of humor is pitch perfect (never too much) and her perspective on the world is at the same time captivating and heart-breaking. This is a girl that will easily win over readers. The three Murphy boys are all endearing and lovable in their own ways, and Mr. Murphy comes across as quite realistic. But, Mrs. Murphy is the Murphy that truly shines, with her patience, strength, humor and unconditional love.
Carley’s journey in this book is at times a heart-wrenching and relentless one, and is always emotionally palpable and believable. Hunt doesn’t rush this journey either; there’s a very natural progression that happens from the time Carley arrives at the Murphys to the time she must reluctantly leave. And in between that time, a lot happens. Carley’s budding relationship with her foster family, especially her foster mother, is both stunning and painful, but always powerful. Carley’s emotional and mental growth from beginning to end is quite profound.
This is a story that will evoke a great deal of emotion and thoughts and readers, which I believe is what we, as readers, truly crave. The story may not have a traditional “happily ever after” ending, but it does end on a hopeful, honest note.