cover image One for the Murphys

One for the Murphys

Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-399-25615-8

When 12-year-old Carley Conners is put into foster care, she is angry and distrustful of the picture-perfect Murphy family. Carley’s mother is in the hospital after a savage beating by Carley’s stepfather, and while Carley has forgotten some details of that night, she partly blames herself for what happened. Mrs. Murphy works hard to gain Carley’s trust, and Carley comes to love her foster mother deeply. Life with the Murphys contrasts with Carley’s old life of poverty with a mother who often dismantled her confidence. At times melodramatic and perhaps overly emotionally manipulative, Hunt’s debut novel is nothing if not a tearjerker—scenes at home with the Murphy family, as well as those in which Carley builds a tentative friendship at school, are undeniably affecting. Hunt’s writing is strong and her characters well-developed and believable; if Carley’s narration and frequent quips sometimes read as too polished, readers will still be drawn into this story of a girl’s struggle against the ingrained belief that she is undeserving of kindness and generosity. Ages 10–up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May)