Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review of Ready-made Family by Frances Salomon Murphy

Name of Book: Ready-made family

Author: Frances Salomon Murphy

ISBN:  0590020706

Publisher: Scholastic

Type of book: foster children, siblings, struggles, school children, families, 1950s, beauty, finances, young adult

Year it was published: 1953


Some money is missing! Hedy's foster mother doesn't know where it is but Hedy does. She knows who took it. Haven't her relatives always said that her brother Pete is a "natural born thief?"

What will happen now? Will Pete be sent to a reform school? Will little Mary Rose have to live in an orphanage? Will Hedy have to go back to her horrible cousin Hattie- and leave the best home she's ever known?


The characters are drawn realistically, with Hedy being frightened for her siblings that they would get beaten up or else abused and her being uncertain. But then thanks to the family she grows to become a mature young lady as well as discovering a number of unexpected friends. The character that the book most focused on was her younger brother Peter who had a history of abuse by women and his fear and uncertainty of trusting his foster mother. There is also some focus on Mary Rose. It also shows how characters change throughout the novel as well as showing the love they carry for one another. I do wish the book would have been longer to be honest.


(Pages 173-174)

'"Just what is a 'ready-made family?' I almost know, but I'm not sure.'

"Grandmother laughed- a soft comfortable laugh. "I'll tell you, Hedy. When I was a girl your age, I never went to a store to buy a dress. I went to the store with my mother to buy material and a pattern and thread and buttons and braid and heaven knows what else. Then my mother or a dressmaker made the dress. Sometimes I thought the dress was going to be beautiful because the picture on the pattern was so pretty. But when it was finished, sometimes I didn't look like the model in the picture. Sometimes the dress made me look too fat or too skinny. Sometimes the dressmaker didn't fit it just right, and as long as I wore the dress it was uncomfortable. But I had to keep it and I had to wear it. I had no choice."...

"Do you see that most families have to take their children just as they come, without a chance to look them over, and have to keep them whether they want to or not? But Nan and John picked out the number of children they wanted. You came to live with them and that was like trying on a dress. They tried on their family, and it was just right for them. So now they're satisfied and happy with their ready-made family."


The plot is realistic and there is progression in characters as well as plot. The characters are changeable and dynamic and not static. It is written in third person narrative from Hedy's point of view. It's not very dated and it feels modern, despite it being written almost sixty years ago...

Author Information:

Not available, although she wrote another book called Runaway Alice


When I was in fourth grade, I couldn't remember why, but a teacher gave me a bunch of free books which I have read and this is one of them that I have decided to keep. (I think I got fourteen or so books, although I probably kept eight or so books I really enjoyed, and this is one of them.) This book is written very realistically with a lot of characters from the three siblings and seemed to deal with issues of nightmares and abuse from the family's nearest relatives. It also touched upon the prejudice and problems that kids back then faced as well as misconceptions that existed or continue to exist. An update would be interesting. There is one thing I didn't like is that the novel is a little too perfect and also it set up this Polish or Eastern European mentality vs America which I didn't appreciate which was why I gave it four stars.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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