Be careful who you get close to—you never know how long they’ll be around. That seems to be the new mantra for Carley Connors.

Placed in foster care after a domestic abuse incident, the 12-year-old goes to live with the Murphys in Connecticut—in a picture-perfect home complete with three active boys and two caring, attentive foster parents. But while the scenario might seem ideal, the Murphys aren’t anything like what Carley is used to. Their happy suburban existence is a far cry from her life with her single mother in Las Vegas. And Carley just doesn’t seem to fit in—nor, at first, does she want to.

Bright, perceptive Carley remains guarded, both at school and at home—trying to fly under the radar to avoid too much scrutiny or criticism. But the warmth of foster mother Julie Murphy chips away at that wall, and by the time her stint in foster care is over, Carley is torn. Her future with her biological mother isn’t exactly clear, but meeting the Murphys has given Carley a better sense of who she is and what a caring family is all about, no matter where she finds it.

In One for the Murphys, Lynda Mullaly Hunt convincingly portrays the personality of a questioning tween as she interacts with those around her. This is a life-affirming middle grade novel—perfect for those struggling with similar issues of fitting in or standing out.

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