By Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Nancy Paulsen Books, $16.99, 256 pages
Twelve-year-old Carley Connor has built serious walls around herself. Her life has been lousy and now, after a stay in the hospital due to her new stepfather beating her unconscious, she’s placed in foster care until her mother recovers from a similar beating. The big difference is, Carley remembers her mother holding her for him when her stepfather came after her. Carley is pretty angry at just about everything. The Murphys, her foster family, expected a boy as they already have three of their own. She even has to sleep in the littlest boy’s room, decorated for someone who wants to grow up and be a fireman. Her defenses go up and she has every intention of keeping them up. When she finds herself at a new school with absolutely no friends, it can’t get much worse. But the Murphys start to worm their way into her life and her heart. Just as she finally decides to let them in, she is faced with the most difficult decision of her young life.
“Most of the time, it wasn’t like my mother told me I was anything―good or bad. But when Mrs. Murphy tells me I’m smart, I am. When she tells me I’m funny, I am… I swear, if she told me I was a duck, I’d be checking in my high-tops for webbed feet.”
Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s debut novel is powerful, honest, and heart-breakingly beautiful. This is a book for everyone, not just middle-school girls; teens and adults will love it as well.
Reviewed by Rosi Hollinbeck