Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

SUMMARY: 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.


With a great blend of humor and emotions, One for the Murphys is a cute and endearing read. While some parts of it felt a bit disjointed, and I would have preferred a little more depth and fleshing out to some aspects, it’s still an enjoyable and engaging story. Strong characters help make this one shine, and the lively but damaged protagonist will draw readers in.

Carley has a great natural wit to her, and a different way of viewing the world that isn't simply a product of her upbringing. Though she most definitely loves her mother, and holds a certain level of loyalty there despite the faults her mom has made, Carley also takes huge steps in recognizing that the life she’s led is far from normal. The kind of girl to keep her emotions in, and putting up an immediate fight rather than let someone get close to her, she’s a hard egg to crack but one that is definitely worth it. With a stunning character arc overall, her story is a sweet one that will resonate.

Mrs. Murphy has a strong presence throughout the book, challenging Carley in some big ways. Still loyal to and protective of her family, she navigates the lines between her children and the foster child smoothly. Never outright taking sides, and having plenty of battles of her own, Mrs. Murphy is a beautifully done and realistic character. While her husband sometimes comes across as conveniently brash, the way Carley slowly came around to him added a great note to the book, and also went far to help develop her character. Then there’s the three boys, each with their own distinct personality. The boys make for some great scenes, and watching Carley interact and get to know each individually was one of the best parts of the book.

This one has an overall simple plot, focused heavily on Carley learning to accept both the help and love she’s being offered. While there were some parts that felt incohesive and not as smoothly transitioned as they could have been, and a few places that lagged in the overall pacing, there are still scenes both funny and sorrowful in this one. The writing is sharp and natural, and the chapter titles are fantastic. Though not as fleshed out overall as I would have liked, One for the Murphys is still a cute read with some great messages to it.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 10 and up 
Hardcover: 256 pages 
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: May 10, 2012)


  1. I hadn't heard of this book before, it seems very very good, so I hope I can get to read it sometime.

  2. It seems like a lot of people like this one. It sounds like a fun summer read.

  3. would love to read this after reading your review