Review: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

One for the MurphysTitle: One for the Murphys

Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Release Date: May 10th, 2012

Interest: Middle grade / Contemporary / Debut author

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

Twelve-year-old Carley Connors can take a lot. Growing up in Las Vegas with her fun-loving mother, she’s learned to be tough. But she never expected a betrayal that would land her in a foster care. When she’s placed with the Murphys, a lively family with three boys, she’s blindsided. Do happy families really exist? Carley knows she could never belong in their world, so she keeps her distance.

It’s easy to stay suspicious of Daniel, the brother who is almost her age and is resentful she’s there. But Mrs. Murphy makes her feel heard and seen for the first time, and the two younger boys seem determinded to work their way into her heart. Before she knows it, Carley is protected the boys from a neighbourhood bullly and even teaching Daniel how to play basketball. Then just when she’s feeling like she could truly be one of the Murphys, news from her mother shakes her world.

I can’t find the right words to review this.  One for the Murphys is a fairly short book containing 224 pages, but it made me feel SO MUCH within those pages.  Lynda Mullaly Hunt has written a stellar debut.

One of the many things I like about One for the Murphys is that although it’s middle grade, I know many of my high school students will enjoy this.  Actually, I’d love to read this aloud to them even though I know I wouldn’t be able to do it without crying.  Carley has a mature voice despite being twelve; she’s experienced more trauma and turbulence in her short life than most adults do.  She’s rough around the edges, whip smart, and has more potential than she’s aware of.  Middle school and high school students alike will be able to connect to Carley.

I can’t write this review without bringing up Mrs. Murphy.  She’s patient, kind, and has a heart of gold.  She’s the kind of mom and woman my mom is.  The way Mrs. Murphy loves and cares for and understands Carley made me think of my mom because I know my mom would be the same way.  I wish more parents, whether they’re biological or not, would be written so strongly in young adult and middle grade novels more often.

My one critique about Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s debut is that some parts of timeline and story jump quickly.  I never really had a sense of how much time had pass, despite Carley marking off the number of days she’s been with the Murphys.  After one incident, which came out of no where, it was apparently the day before Easter.  And then it was Mother’s Day.  Little details like that caught me off guard when I was reading.  They were convenient to the movement of the plot and the character development, but they would have served the story better with a little more editing.

Quite a few of my friends have already read this, so if you’re one of the apparent few who haven’t, I hope you read One for the Murphys soon.  Carley and the Murphys are going to stay with me for a long time.  I took my friends’ advice when I read this, and I hope you’ll take this same advice: make sure you have a box of tissues handy while reading.


  1. Thanks for sharing your lovely review. I also read this a while ago and can’t stop recommending it to people. It’s just that good!

  2. Definitely adding this to my To-Be-Read list!

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