Why I liked it: Carley is a main character that is impossible not to love. Who can say no to a girl who skips school to go to the library? And your heart will break for her as she struggles to accept the love of her new foster family because of how poorly she has been treated in the past by her stepfather and even her own mother. It's no wonder she lets her new friend, Toni, believe that the Murphys are her real family. Being the new kid at school is difficult enough without having to explain that you are in foster care and how you ended up there. Despite some disagreements between her foster mother (who turns out to have been in foster care herself) and foster father, and tension with the oldest of the Murphys' sons, Carley builds relationships with the entire family and it is a struggle for her to return to her mother. I, for one, was rooting for her to stay with the Murphys.
Classroom application: This one will have your middle school students holding back tears and high schoolers will love it too. The novel would be a great lead in to a research project on the foster care system. Students could research the number of children in foster care in your state, the percentage of them that are returned to their homes versus the percentage that are adopted or remain in the system until they age out. Students could also investigate the rules surrounding removing a child from his/her parent's care and maybe even write an argument essay on children's rights or parents' rights.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of One For The Murphys for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.
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