Family of the Year by Ken Swarner
Family of the Year is a story about the Murphy family and their business Murphy Pallets and Honey Baked Ham. Jon Murphy III, the main character, is a married father of four who is unhappily working for the family business. Jon works with his father, mother, two brothers, and two brothers in law in the corporate office of the pallet business, and then goes home to his wife Lucy and his kids. Jon has a somewhat strained relationship with his brothers and father, and his mother is an alcoholic. His children Chris, Emily, Craig, and Trevor get average grades and don’t excel in extracurricular activities, but are rambunctious, social, and funny. When Jon’s daughter Emily wins a school essay contest about the Murphy family and their business, Jon feels a mixture of suspicion and pride. As it turns out, the essay, which could potentially win state and national awards, is mostly untrue.
The book Family of the Year is sometimes sad, often funny, heart-warming, and full of ups and downs as the story unfolds. It is very well written and the characters come to life on the page, as the reader grows attached to them. Though the book deals with some heavy topics, such as death, injury, rape, and murder, it somehow manages to remain humorous and fun to read. It holds the interest of the reader the entire way through and there seems to be compelling events on almost every page. It is an excellent book, and hopefully we will be reading more from the author in the future.