Our Immigrants' Son

Non-Fiction - Historical
436 Pages
Reviewed on 11/11/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Our Immigrants' Son by John Francis Patrick Murphy is an inspiring work of historical non-fiction. With details and records, he traces his family heritage from 1845 with his parents, then down through history. But this isn't a fictionalized genealogy alone. It's a woven fabric of events, lives, and contributions--wrapped in an entertaining story with the latter half offering advice on how readers can write their own family stories. The author takes artistic license with his lineage with stellar results. He shows how there are life and purpose to a family's past, and that we all have a personal history that we can get in touch with and appreciate. His parents were Patrick and Mary, immigrants coming by sea from County Waterford, Ireland to America's Boston, Massachusetts just prior to The Great Famine, searching for a new land and a new start. From there, the generations keep unfolding, through the Civil War, law enforcement, and other key milestones. The fabric of this story is sewn with faith, family, and patriotism and a lot of families can relate to these themes.

By telling his own family story, the author prompts you, the reader, to look into your own, so this immediately involves the audience in a way that most historical accounts don't. Murphy reminds us that every person has a story, every family has a story, and you can write it if you learn how. I like that one of the major themes of this book is that we wouldn't be here without our ancestors and that all of them contributed something to who we are as people and families. If you've ever held a piece of antique jewelry, clothing, or artifact belonging to an ancestor, then you may have wondered about the story behind it. Who was this person? What was he/she like? What were their daily activities? How did they fit into historical events? The work as a whole is a nice expression of the respect Murphy has for his family lineage. I admire the author's attention to research and detail, and highly recommend Our Immigrants' Son by John Francis Patrick Murphy.

K.C. Finn

Our Immigrants' Son is a work of non-fiction in the historical, interpersonal drama, and family saga sub-genres, and was penned by author John Francis Patrick Murphy. Based on true events, history, and genealogy relating back to the author, this is a sweeping epic of historical family drama beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. The story follows the Murphy family as a brave couple dares to dream of crossing the Atlantic to make a life for themselves in a new land: the United States of America. What follows is a tale of rising up through trials and triumphs, but also never forgetting who you are and where you truly come from.

Author John Francis Patrick Murphy has crafted an epic story with faith and identity at its heart. One of the things which I found most impressive about the construction of the story was how the author is able to share such a unique and personalized viewpoint of a single family, but also expand the themes and narrative to encompass the larger theme of immigration, especially in contrast to today’s context. The dialogue was a standout feature as well, really serving to deliver Irish culture and values, as well as giving us hints to the characters’ personalities. I also found the back matter on family ancestry really fascinating, and feel that readers who like true-to-life family sagas will be inspired by it. Overall, I would definitely recommend Our Immigrants' Son to fans of emotive historical epics, tales of triumph, and writing that comes from the heart.

Vincent Dublado

John Francis Patrick Murphy is passionate and proud of his roots, and he wants you to feel the same about your roots as well. In Our Immigrants’ Son, he goes into in-depth research in tracing his lineage. It was a challenging task that has yielded fulfilling results, as it led him to a rich discovery about his family’s faith, patriotism, values, and the tears and joys of building a life in a new land. Told in a combination of prose and poetry, this story begins in 1845 in Ireland, where the parents of the author’s Irish-American great-grandfather, Michael Joseph Murphy, undertake a perilous Atlantic voyage to a new land. Three years after Michael’s birth in America, we see the documentation of an unsettling era in American history through an immigrant’s experience. The black and white photographs give you a feeling of traveling back in time.

Aside from telling his family’s roots, John Francis Patrick Murphy invites you to write your family’s story. He wants you to chronicle the failures and triumphs of your own family, as you may have the distinction of being the last generation to tell them. Murphy writes not just as a chronicler of his family’s roots, but a mentor on penning your heritage no matter what your family means to you. He writes with an open heart by doing his best to cover everything he can unravel, as attested by the diligent research that went into his family’s genealogy. In reading Our Immigrants’ Son, you can expect to be inspired and to learn from this compelling story, and perhaps it might even encourage you to write your family history.

Lesley Jones

Among the many Irish people who fled the tyranny of British rule and made the perilous journey to the US in the hope of freedom and prosperity were Patrick Murphy and Mary Hefferman. Patrick and Mary left everything they knew in County Waterford and landed in Boston in April 1945 without fully understanding what was awaiting them. This epic journey through the generations covers the most pivotal people and events in history, the horrendous living and working conditions the lower classes had to endure, and the moments that triggered changes in the American constitution. Patrick and Mary married soon after their arrival and had seven children. Our Immigrants' Son by John Francis Patrick Murphy focuses primarily on Michael, the eldest son, and his determination to make a difference to society, making it equal and beneficial to those who had been forgotten. In 1848, Michael enlisted to fight in the Civil War before he was of legal age to do so. After the war, Michael continued his fight for justice and joined the police force, where he became the Chief of Police, a position that gained him huge recognition and respect. Michael also faced a great dilemma during the Great Textile Strike of 1912 where he had to choose between his principles and the well-being of his family. The Murphy legacy continues with future generations, some war heroes, local politicians, and others who continued Michael's dream to fight for justice, liberty, and human equality. The author also shares invaluable advice, techniques, and research methods he used so you can also share your family's story with others too.

Our Immigrants' Son by John Francis Patrick Murphy is the type of book that will remain with you long after the final page is read. I absolutely adored Michael; what an inspirational man in every way. His values and courage were exceptional, and his belief in a better world for everyone placed him in some dreadfully dangerous and difficult situations. His goal to make his parents proud after their life-threatening journey across the Atlantic was certainly achieved. I have also learned so much about what the Irish people suffered before and after they arrived in the US. The medical examination on arrival was shocking; what if one family member failed the medical? What an impossible decision they would have had to face, either to see their loved ones return to Ireland or to leave with them and give up on their dreams. The living and working conditions were described so vividly, it was sometimes hard to read. Helen's story and her battle with tuberculosis were also heartbreaking. The injustices, corruption, and clashes between the elites and working classes are still relevant today and Michael's story, in particular, reminds us that we have to take note of history if we are ever to make a positive move forward. The importance of passing down good values, beliefs, and stories about our lives is highlighted throughout this wonderful book. The pictures, newspaper clippings, and photographs were so interesting. I was impressed with how many artifacts the author has from previous generations. The pictures of the graves at the end were a startling reminder of how short life is and how it is vital to make your mark while you are here.

Mamta Madhavan

Our Immigrants' Son by John Francis Patrick Murphy is a fine combination of biographical-based historical fiction and poetry that tells the story of the author's family, beginning with his side of the Irish clan and how everything started with their decision to leave Ireland forever. Patrick and Mary's brave decision to travel to the New World for better opportunities for stonemasons is a story of courage after they arrived in the United States. The author speaks about being the third generation of his family and how all this information comes from 'The Box,' which has a collection of family photos, newspaper clippings, personal letters, notebooks, schoolbooks, scrapbooks, dance cards, and many such indispensable items that give glimpses of a family's history.

Our Immigrants' Son is a compelling read and I like the manner in which the author has traced his family roots. There are pictures shared too which help readers connect with the family's history, and give glimpses of the stories of immigrants, regardless of where they come from. The book also deals with patriotism, courage, and Catholicism, and the love, laughter, tears, conversations, sibling pranks, and family stories make it palpable for readers as they are pulled into the author's personal world. John Francis Patrick Murphy is very vocal when he speaks about his family, giving readers personal details that connected his family together. For readers who are lovers of history and family, this book will definitely strike a chord and encourage them to find 'The Box' of their own family; to find the genealogical records that bind them and their family members. The anecdotes, stories, and historical facts shared in the book add to the distinctiveness of the Murphy family.