Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s debut novel is a promising start. She crafts compelling characters who are likable despite numerous flaws. She also gives a realistic view of the issues foster children face. Hunt does good job of developing the relationship between Mrs. Murphy and Carley, but the other relationships in the novel fall flat. Carley and Toni’s friendship seems forced, and Rainer is fairly boring bully. The most interesting relationship in the book should be between Carley and her mother, but Hunt gives few details about their past. One for the Murphys also suffers from its numerous plot holes. It’s not believable that Carley enters a new middle school halfway through the year in a small town and no one knows she is a foster child. Also, Mr. Murphy is constantly watching Red Sox baseball games while his son is trying out for basketball. Hunt should know that sports work within a calendar and these two sports don’t happen at the same time.
Though One for the Murphys is a likeable story, it does not stand up well among other strong novels about foster children like Jill Wolfson’s What I Call Life or Patricia Reilly Giff’s Pictures of Hollis Woods.
For grades 5 and up
3 out of 5 stars