What is it with me and crying books recently?!
Do I usually like books that make me want to cry?
Well, I recently picked up One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt because it is on the 2013-2014 Florida Sunshine State list despite the fact that it is a crying book. In the end it was a pretty good read!
Twelve-year-old Carley Connors can take a lot. Growing up in Las Vegas with her fun-loving mother, she’s learned to be tough. But she never expected a betrayal that would land her in a foster care. When she’s placed with the Murphys, a lively family with three boys, she’s blindsided. Do happy families really exist? Carley knows she could never belong in their world, so she keeps her distance.
It’s easy to stay suspicious of Daniel, the brother who is almost her age and is resentful she’s there. But Mrs. Murphy makes her feel heard and seen for the first time, and the two younger boys seem determined to work their way into her heart. Before she knows it, Carley is protected the boys from a neighbourhood bully and even teaching Daniel how to play basketball. Then just when she’s feeling like she could truly be one of the Murphys, news from her mother shakes her world.
Yes, I may even have teared up once or twice.
One for the Murphys is a sweet and at times heart wrenching story of courage forged out of an incredibly difficult situation.
Carley, the main character is a storm of emotions. She misses her mother, but is hurt and angry by her. She wants to love the Murphys but resents their happiness. She desires love, but struggles with believing she deserves it. I completely understand Carley’s push/pull emotions. She wants so badly to be loved the right way but it’s so unfamiliar to her that it scares her and she pushes attention away.
The story of a child in the foster system is so often untold that it is nice to read Carley’s (although fictional) perspective. I also appreciate the insight into not only the experience of the foster child, but also the experience of the fostering family. You have Daniel who is resentful of Carley’s presence and Mr. Murphy who is unsure about his wife’s choice to invite this unknown girl into their home.
Without getting spoilery, I really love how the ending is open. One for the Murphys is all about hope when you feel like none is left. Throughout each chapter we see Carley learning to hope, finding the courage to hope and then ultimately fighting for it. In the end, although we do not know what happens exactly, we’re left with an abundance of hope.
This was such a quick read! The chapters are short and poignant, which will appeal to middle grade students (especially mine!). All in all, I think One for the Murphys is a great addition to the Sunshine State list and I recommend it to middle grade readers and up, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.