Standalone. Nancy Paulsen Books - Penguin (May 2012) Library
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 determined to work their way into her heart. Before she knows it, Carley is protected the boys from a neighborhood bully 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.
Carley doesn't remember what happened between her mother and her stepfather Dennis. She doesn't remember why she has bruises all over her only that her mother is in the hospital and they won't let her see her. She has been sent away to go live in a strangers house where the mother is way too nice for her. The family is way too nice for her except maybe the eldest son who has something against her. She's stuck in a room that's not her own with a sign that says "Be Someone's Hero" but how could she be? She couldn't help her own mother. She's stuck trying to figure out the puzzle of how she got here and why. But when she thinks about it too much she doesn't like the answer. Not at all...
You hear the horror stories about the foster care system and you begin to wonder if there are any good families out there who actually care about kids put into that position? The Murphys are that family. They genuinely care about Carley and she slowly takes off her armor because of them.
Carley's got some fight in her, she looks at the world differently, and she's also a sweetheart. The way she played with the two youngest Murphys makes you really stop and think especially when other events play out. Just because this girl is in foster care doesn't mean anything against her. She is not a bad person. It's the parents fault that she is in there. She deserves to be loved and be safe from harm. I think that's what the author was getting at in this story. That and one event can shape you. But, one person can change your life just like that too. They can have such a great impact on your life that you know who you are and who you are not because of them.
"All these gifts you have, Carley. All these gifts you have."
Mrs. Murphy is that one person that changed her life. The bond that grows between these two... I loved it. She fought for her, she cried for her, and she loved her. She listened to what she had to say and took care of her - something her mother never did. This book is just overwhelmingly emotional and inspirational. I was crying at the last chapters just totally invested in what this book was doing to me. It gives me hope that maybe the world isn't as bad as I think it is.
Overall: FANTASTIC. I cannot say anything bad towards this book. We need more MG books like this.
You can check out Hunt's website here.
She might make a book on another (important) characters POV!
Check out this post on her website that's just so sweet.