Cover image for Harmony
Murphy, Rita.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Delacorte Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
129 pages ; 22 cm
Found as a baby by an old farm couple in the Tennessee mountains, Harmony has always been different, but when she begins developing special powers, she wants nothing more than to be ordinary.
Reading Level:
820 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.1 4.0 62558.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.9 9 Quiz: 31978 Guided reading level: R.

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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Harmony McLean has been different from the moment she was discovered. When a falling star struck his chicken coop, Felix McGillicuddy never expected to find a baby girl miraculously left behind. He names her after the harmony of spheres in honor of her celestial arrival, and his wife, Nettie Mae McLean, gives Harmony her strong Irish surname to keep her grounded. Soon after her 15th birthday, something special begins coursing through Harmony-the power to move objects and affect the universe with her energy. But this mountain-bred girl is looking for a way to fit into the big world, not stand out any more than she already does. In this powerful novel from the writer of Night Flying, a young woman must learn to accept who she is before she can claim the magic that has chosen her. From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. Harmony fell from the sky: a star crashed into Felix and Nettie Mae's chicken coup nearly 15 years ago, and there she was. Harmony knows things, and she can do things--light a fire without touching it, move the silverware, hear inside someone's head--and she doesn't like it. Nettie Mae is a doctor and midwife: she uses her Cherokee mother's medicine bag, and sometimes Harmony goes with her. Nettie Mae has taught much to Harmony: how to listen, to protect the Old People, to connect with the Tennessee white pines they live among. As the story progresses, Harmony struggles with how to use her powers that keep her an outsider yet offer so much potential for good. In sweet, sharp language as clear as the scent of pine, Murphy chronicles Harmony's coming to terms with her gift in this delicately etched fantasy touched with magic realism. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

When a lumber company threatens to cut down the Old People, a row of sacred white pines, the 14-year-old narrator discovers she has magical powers. In a starred review, PW said that debut novelist Murphy "connects earth and sky in a novel laced with lyricism and magic." Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Harmony lives with an older couple in the mountains of Tennessee. She was found in a chicken coop by Felix McGuillicuddy, who swears that she arrived in a falling star, and has been raised by him and his wife. She has always felt very connected to the energy of the world, trees, and stars, and now she can move things using only her mind. Sometimes she can even predict the future of those around her. The teen simply wants to be normal so she tries to hide her growing powers. Conflicts heat up as a logging company decides to cut down the nearby ancient trees that Nettie Mae McGuillicuddy has sworn to protect and as Harmony begins to fall for her best friend's cousin Caleb. This touching story combines the trials and tribulations of growing up with the problems of having extrasensory perception. Harmony and her family are lovable and believable characters. Through their relationships, readers see the importance of a love of the land and of nature, of neighborliness and caring, and of the interconnections among people. A wonderful story of a teen who is coming to terms with being different and learning to accept her gift.-Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



CHAPTER ONE I am what folks in the mountains refer to as a found-ling, what the Cherokee call oo-da-ni-ya-da, an orphan. Uncle Felix was the one who found me. He was setting up his Harmony Box on the rise that last warm night of August when it happened. For forty years, my uncle Felix has been trying to capture the sound planets make when they move by one another in space. He follows the theories of Pythagoras, who lived more than two thousand years ago and called this sound the harmony of the spheres. This is the music Felix listens for on a little black metal box he invented himself. On clear nights, Felix sets up his Harmony Box, puts on his headset and sits on the rise until dawn. He searches for lost stars and comets with no names, and occasionally, if he's lucky, he comes home with at least one good recording of the wind through the trees. On that particular August evening, Felix had also brought along his telescope to watch the Perseid meteor showers, which occur every year about that time. Felix said the sky was clear and filled with shooting stars, and as he was gazing up at the northern sky, one bright star fell and crashed to earth straight through the roof of my aunt Nettie Mae's chicken coop. Nettie Mae has had Rhode Island Reds and Black Austrolorps in that coop, but she'd never had a star before. Felix found that star quite remarkable, but not as remarkable as what was lying beside it, naked and crowing louder than a rooster. And that was my first introduction to Felix McGillicuddy fifteen years ago. From that moment on, Uncle Felix and Aunt Nettie Mae have raised me as their own. Felix is convinced I am a star child and insisted at first on naming me Arcturus, as that was the constellation he most accurately figures I must have fallen from. But Nettie Mae disagreed. She said no child, star or otherwise, should have to lug a name as heavy as Arcturus through life, so they came to a compromise. They settled on Harmony for Felix's great passion and McClean for Nettie Mae's people, who have lived in these mountains for four generations. A name from both heaven and earth, they agreed, would keep me well grounded in the world. Since I turned fourteen last August, however, I have felt less than grounded in the world. There is a restlessness inside me--a feeling I'm getting too big for my life. Growing right out of my skin. In fact, if I could zip myself open and step out, I would. In a second, I would. I have been noticing things about myself lately that are . . . well . . . surprising, to say the least. I'm able to lay all the silverware on the table, for instance, and then think about where I want the forks and spoons and knives to go, and they just move beside the plates or onto a napkin. All I have to do is think about what I want and it happens. It's amazing in one way and scary in another. So far, our cat, Fellini, is the only one who knows my secret. One afternoon shortly after my birthday, Fellini witnessed me making a fire in the fireplace without any matches. I was cold and too lazy to get up and make a fire myself, so I just sat in front of the pile of dry wood and thought of combustion. Within a minute the wood was smoking; within two minutes there was a roaring fire in the grate. Fellini hid under the bed and didn't come out for two days. She still refuses to sit on my lap. Nettie Mae thinks Fellini must have gotten into a patch of catnip, because she's never seen her act so peculiar. I can't bring myself to tell Nettie Mae or Felix the truth about my new abilities, because I don't know what the truth is yet. I know what they'd do if they did find out, though. Nettie Mae would whip up a tea of oat straw and hops to settle my nerves, and Felix would say that he's been right all along and I am merely displaying the qualities of a star child. "Harmony," he'd say. "You are a gift from the stars. Who would expect anything different from you?" Then he would proceed to turn me into his new scientific project, and I'd end up spending the next year of my life sitting in his studio with electrodes pressed to my temples. I don't want to be someone's scientific project or the subject of gossip, as I have been for years. I've already spent most of my life trying to live down the events of my birth as it is. I don't want to start all over again trying to convince people I'm not strange. The truth is I actually find the whole thing kind of fascinating, if not bewildering. It's like holding a little seedling in my hand and hoping one day it will come to something, like a flower or a tomato plant or a tree. I'm just not ready to put that seedling in the ground yet and risk someone stepping on it. I want to hold it to myself awhile longer until I know what it's all about. Besides, Felix and Nettie Mae have more important things to do than worry about how many spoons I can move or fires I can make with my mind. There's too much work to do on our farm as it is. Cutting wood and feeding chickens. Keeping the roof from leaking. Nettie Mae is both doctor and midwife. Her days are spent preparing herbal remedies and tending to sick folk. Felix has his inventions. I have my studies. And then there are the trees. We all have to take care of the trees. Nettie Mae, Felix and I live in the very northeastern corner of Tennessee in the Hamlin Mountains on the edge of the national forest. Excerpted from Harmony by Rita Murphy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.