Reviews for One for the Murphys

Booklist Reviews 2012 May #2
When 12-year-old Carley Connors is placed in foster care and sent to live with the Murphy family, she's angry, confused, and counting her days in captivity. She has a hazy recollection of the night her stepfather's abuse landed her and her mother in the hospital, and her feelings toward her self-centered mother walk the razor-thin line between love and hate. But hardened Carley begins to soften under the Murphys' care. At first distrustful and defensive, Carley opens herself up slowly to the type of family she never knew existed--warm, caring, and safe. Hunt's heart-wrenching debut believably captures Carley's painful one-step-forward, two-steps-back process, particularly as she acts out in order to protect dealing with her emotions. Although some realizations toward the end don't always feel earned, and some dialogue falls just shy of melodrama, readers will nonetheless gravitate toward this lovable girl, along with her Broadway-obsessed new best friend and the wonderful cast of Murphys. Carley promises Mrs. Murphy that she'll "have a happy life someday," and readers will be cheering her on. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Carley Connors arrives at the Murphys' home for foster care after a brutal beating by her stepfather leaves her mother hospitalized and Carley bitter and betrayed. In this coming-of-age novel, Hunt successfully creates a portrait of a young girl's emerging understanding of the complexities of family and the awareness that loyalty is not the same as ignoring your own wants and needs.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #4
Carley Connors arrives at the Murphys' home for foster care after a brutal beating by her stepfather leaves her mother hospitalized and Carley bitter and betrayed. The Murphy family is not what she is used to -- nor what she expected: she calls Mrs. Murphy "freakish" for making a special trip to buy plain orange juice just for her, for example. Carley would feel more at home with a "mother who smokes cigars and makes [her] sleep in the basement" than with this mother who looks at her children like they're "the best thing ever." Aided by the family's boisterous young sons and by Mr. and Mrs. Murphy's understanding, Carley slowly realizes her own worth and, through a shared affinity for basketball, even makes inroads with the one Murphy boy who keeps her at arm's length. Hunt successfully creates a portrait of a young girl's emerging understanding of the complexities of family and the awareness that loyalty is not the same as ignoring your own wants and needs. Carley's struggles with anger, regret, and self-worth both balance and deepen this coming-of-age tale. The novel speaks to the universal experience of growing up but will especially resonate with readers who have questioned the hands they have been dealt and wonder how to move forward nonetheless. Hunt's novel vacillates between uplifting and heartbreaking as Carley learns to love, be loved, and let go. rebecca kirshenbaum

Kirkus Reviews 2012 April #2
Sent to a foster home after a beating from her stepfather, eighth-grader Carley Connors learns about a different kind of family life, first resisting and then resisting having to leave the loving, loyal Murphys. Carley is a modern-day Gilly Hopkins, bright and strong, angry and deeply hurt. She's torn between her love for her mother and her memory of the fight that sent her to the hospital, when her mother caught and held her for her stepfather. Her foster-care placement is terrifying. Mr. Murphy, a fire chief, and his eldest son Daniel don't even want her there, and Mrs. Murphy is just too nice. It is 4-year-old Michael Eric and his red-headed brother Adam who first break the ice. Slowly won over at home by the boys' open affection and Mrs. Murphy's patience and surprising understanding, Carley also finds a friend at school in the prickly, Wicked-obsessed Toni. The first-person narration allows readers inside Carley's head as she fights against both showing emotion and her growing pleasure in belonging to their world. There's plenty of snappy dialogue as well. By the end of this poignant debut, readers will be applauding Carley's strength even if they're as unhappy as Carley is about the resolution. A worthy addition to the foster-family shelf. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 March #2

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)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 June

Gr 5-8--After her stepfather beats them up, Carley is placed in foster care while her hard-partying mother recovers in the hospital. Angry, frightened, and determined to be unhappy, the 12-year-old finds the Murphy family quite a change. At first she's difficult, but the kindness of Julie, the mother; easygoing Jack, the father; and the slow acceptance of their three sons predictably turn things around. There is never any doubt that the generous Murphys and a friendship with a girl at school will be redeeming factors for sarcastic, funny, tough Carley. When little Michael Eric has a medical crisis, she cements her place in the family by jumping in to help. Because of the balance between showing her inner good nature and her mean and tough performance, readers might have a hard time recognizing which is Carley's true self and which is the front she is presenting. Her mother, quite surprisingly, turns out to have some redeeming qualities, a fact that provides drama when Carley is conflicted about returning to Vegas or continuing to live in Connecticut with the new family she has made. In the end, the choice is made for her, deflating the tension. Though the story is earnest and well-intentioned, the execution is uneven, which will not bother one bit kids who like watching a bad girl make good.--Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO

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VOYA Reviews 2012 August
Carley arrives at her new foster home still wearing her hospital bracelet. No one will tell her what is happening with her still-unconscious mother, and memories of her abusive stepfather make it hard for her to think she will be treated kindly anywhere. She tries to ease her pain by counting steps, counting stripes, counting leaves. Julie Murphy and her husband receive Carley kindly, though, and the two youngest Murphy boys immediately win her heart. The oldest son resents Carley until she teaches him how to improve his basketball playing. Just when Carley begins to believe that she could belong to a real family and just when she realizes that she wants to stay with the Murphys, her mother awakens and calls for her. The plight of the foster child has been done before and done well by authors such as Katherine Paterson and Cynthia Voigt. This debut novel holds its own, however. Through first-person narrative, the author reveals Carley's anger and her determination to hide her fear the way mother taught her. Carley's journey through learning to receive the love of her foster family and then accepting that she must leave them is affectingly told. Believing that she can, someday, have a loving family of her own no matter what she goes through with her mother, makes a different kind of happy ending. Middle grade and teen readers will find this an engaging story.--Marla K. UnruhOne for the Murphys is a heart-warming story. Throughout the book it will make readers laugh, cry, and appreciate what is truly important in life. This reviewer enjoyed this book because it emphasizes that, even when it seems like all hope is lost, there is some light to be found. 4Q, 3P.--Amber Brown, Teen Reviewer 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.