Book Review - One For The Murphys

Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin (May 10, 2012)
Source: Copy for review
Read Aloud: Grades 4th to 8th
Independent Reading Level: Grades 4th to 8th
Fiction * Foster Care * Family 

Description 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.

My thoughts on the book:
This is a tissue book.  Yeah, just thinking about the book, I have to pull out the tissues again. *wipes eyes, starts again to write* This is also a good book.  It came highly recommended and after reading it I understand why.  I challenge someone to start this book and not finish it in one sitting?  I couldn't put it down.  As a reader, I was so drawn into Carley's story that I just had to keep reading.   

Lynda Mullaly Hunt has created a very special book.  Readers will be pulled in by Carley, her story and by the Murphys just like Carley is drawn in.  Carley's own family life has been far from stable.  Raised by a single mother, Carley has been taught street-wise survival skills but after a severe beating by her step-father, Carley is placed in foster care.  Carley has heard about foster care and she is fully prepared not to like the Murphys.  Initially, Carley is determined to use humor, sarcasm, and even some anger to keep the family at a distance.  Over time,  Carley learns that there may be more choices in life for her than she originally believed. 

Writing stories about children in tough home situations or foster care can be a dangerous road to walk for an author.  Finding the right message and the right balance between telling it like it is and writing a "happily ever after" story is not easy.  Hunt has created a touching, heart-warming story that still manages to ring true and not gloss over some of the more difficult issues and choices that children such as Carley face while in foster care.  As Carley grows and develops from her interactions with the Murphys and with some of the students at her school, the reader also sees how Carley changes their lives as well.   

Since I wanted to know if I should include One For The Murphys in my fall recommendations to students and teachers, I knew I had to read this one before the school year was too far in.  I am glad that I have read it and excited to share Carley and her story with students and teachers.  This will definitely be one book that I recommend over and over again.   
Check out the book trailer below:

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