On My Bookshelf: One For The Murphys By Lynda Mullaly Hunt

January 11, 2016

In One For The Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Carley puts up a tough facade for her foster family and the kids at her new school, but inside are a whirlwind of emotions surrounding a night she is struggling to remember. Just as Carley becomes comfortable accepting and returning the love of her new family and friends, she must chose between this new life and returning to the one who hurt her most.
Basic plot from Amazon: 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.

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.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:

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