One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2012)

one foThis story about a witty, sarcastic girl who struggles to open herself to love in a foster home is a favorite with upper elementary and middle school readers.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 224 (for ISBN 9780399256158)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: snarky, longing

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: foster care, domestic abuse, relationships with foster families

Themes: betrayal by a family member, finding familial love, loss, belonging, forgiveness

Summary: In the wake of heart-breaking betrayal, Carley Connors is thrust into foster care and left on the steps of the Murphys, a happy, bustling family.

Carley has thick walls and isn’t rattled easily, but this is a world she just doesn’t understand. A world that frightens her. So, she resists this side of life she’d believed did not exist with dinners around a table and a “zip your jacket, here’s your lunch” kind of mom.

However, with the help of her Broadway-obsessed and unpredictable friend, Toni, the Murphys do the impossible in showing Carley what it feels like to belong somewhere. But, when her mother wants her back, will she lose the only family that she has ever known? (Source)

Who will like this book?: Realistic fiction fans are probably going to like Carley, with all her sarcastic quips and underlying vulnerability. Give this one to readers looking for an emotional ride.

Who won’t like this book?: Readers seeking action and external conflict should look elsewhere. Some readers may not understand why Carley acts out.

Other comments: This one is tried-and-true. Middle schooler-tested and approved, over and over again.


What to read next: Almost Home by Joan Bauer is another middle grade story about a girl who enters a foster home. For more mature readers, Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend is another story about a girl displaced by her mother’s problems, and Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt is story about a 14-year-old boy in foster care who is a young father separated from his daughter.


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