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Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle
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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
I didn't read this when I was a child, but after reading it now I am sure I wold have enjoyed it. Not as good as the Wrinkle in Time books, but still good. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
Written in episodic form, this is the introduction to L'Engle's second favorite family, the Austins. Unlike many of her books, this one has no science fiction elements. It is the story of a family of 4 children, 2 dogs, and a bunch of cats, living in a rambling house on a hill in small town New England. Little of consequence happens: an orphaned child joins the family and behaves badly, the narrator falls off her bike and breaks her arm, ice storms rage, meals are cooked and eaten, books are read, and siblings squabble. It is gloriously cozy.

I vacillated between 3 & 4 stars for this one. I liked it a lot - it is the entry into the series, and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Vicky and her brothers and sisters. ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
Vicky Austin and her family live a small town life where her father is the county doctor and her mom stays at home with the four kids, of which Vicky is the second. Tragedy strikes their family when Uncle Hal - no blood relation, but a close friend - dies in a plane crash alone with his co-pilot. The co-pilot's daughter Maggy, now an orphan, comes into their lives and threatens to turns the warm household upside down with her hysterics and snobbery.

This episodic and quiet book about a happy family was the type of book I would've loved reading just about the time I was reading through The Moffats and sequels. Even as an adult it's one that I can still enjoy, just not with the same abandon perhaps because I can relate much more to the grownups than the kids. And it's twelve-year-old Vicky telling her story, from dealing with an unhappy and spoiled child to everyday life with siblings to the relationships between the family and others, particularly her father's brother Douglas and Hal's wife, Aunt Elena. Being most familiar with the Wrinkle in Time books, I was expecting science fiction and was surprised to find this realistic instead. Once I changed my expectations, I enjoyed getting to know Vicky and her family and plan on continuing the series. ( )
1 vote bell7 | Jun 19, 2016 |

What ages would I recommend it too? – Eight and up.

Length? – An evening's read.

Characters? – Memorable, several characters.

Setting? – 1950's near Boston.

Written approximately? – 1960.

Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? – Ready to read more.

Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? No.

Notes for the reader: A little short, and addresses the audience several times. Missing something. ( )
  AprilBrown | Feb 25, 2015 |
Going into this book I had no idea that it was the only book in this series that didn't have a fantasy or science fiction theme. Throughout most of the book I couldn't quite put my finger on why I was disappointed with it, but after reading the description from Wikipedia it was obvious to me that that was what I was missing. Most of Madeleine L'Engle's other books that I love include some element of fantasy and I really missed that in this story.

I hadn't read this book before, and the only other book in the series I had read was the fourth, A Ring of Endless Light (which happens to be one of my favorite books from my teen years). I feel fortunate that I didn't start out with the first book when I was a teen because I wouldn't have continued on and found out how much I loved the fourth book.

I think that one of the big reasons that this book did not appeal to me (other than the lack of fantasy) was that it was geared toward a younger audience. I have a feeling that this is one of those series in which the style of writing changes as the main character grows and ages.

There were some entertaining scenes, but again, they were of the type that would appeal to a younger reader. The orphan girl who comes to live with Vicky's family disrupts the family in various ways, causing Suzy to be disobedient, and driving everyone crazy with her selfishness. She reminded me a bit of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden in that she was spoiled in the beginning and slowly learns how to behave nicely. The similarities to The Secret Garden end there though (in other words, I think that The Secret Garden is far superior in character development and plot elements).

I also find it revealing that the character that I want to write about is Suzy (a minor character) and not Vicky. Suzy's character was much more interesting than Vicky's. Suzy is always up to some mischief, while Vicky seems to be watching and relating what her family is doing for the most part (with the exception of when she wrecks her bike). In some ways this makes sense, since the book is titled "Meet the Austins" - the story seems to be only an introduction to the family. Meet the Austins is a pleasant tale, but it wasn't as fantastic as most of Madeleine L'Engle's other books that I've read.

Upon finishing Meet the Austins I had no intention of continuing on with the series. However, after finding out from Wikipedia that the other books in the series contain elements of fantasy and science fiction, I am considering continuing with the next book. I also was unaware that there was a fifth book in the series after A Ring of Endless Light. I'm very curious to find out what happens to Vicky in last book (Troubling a Star), so if nothing else I will be reading that one. ( )
  akreese | May 16, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 044095777X, Mass Market Paperback)

Reading award-winning author Madeleine L'Engle's Meet the Austins is like taking a vacation with the warm, compassionate Austins--an extraordinary family who takes a little girl named Maggy Hamilton under its wing when her father is killed in a plane accident. Adjusting to a new household member is not easy, as the 12-year-old narrator, Vicky, will testify. Maggy is spoiled, "ubiquitous," laughs in a "horrid, screechy way," and appears to be a child of an entirely different species from the thoughtful, intelligent, kind, yet not cloyingly so, Austin kids. Still, Vicky and her other siblings (Rob, Suzy, and John) grit their collective teeth and struggle to understand her, which becomes easier and easier as the loving family seems to rub off on the newly orphaned Maggy.

The Austins are beyond question a charming family, but their path is by no means rock-free: Vicky sneaks off to a friend's house and severely injures herself in a bike accident, they all get the measles, John is beat up after his guest sermon in church, and they almost lose little Rob. Despite ordinary family setbacks, there's no use pretending this is a run-of-the-mill family. When Vicky is sick, her older brother, John, comes into her room and soothes her with a discussion of the solar system, our atomic composition, and the relativity of size. Family dinner-table talk includes the ethics of meat eating, and a chat with Grandfather ends up with a discussion of whether Einstein believed in God. As in all of L'Engle's novels, she asks the big questions: What is the meaning of life, and how does death fit into that? Are there different kinds of intelligence? What happens when you remove a screw from a radiator? This strangely comforting novel, first published in 1960, is an ALA Notable Book, and was followed by four other books featuring the Austin Family: The Moon by Night, The Young Unicorns, A Ring of Endless Light (a Newbery Honor Book), and Troubling a Star. (Ages 9 to 12) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:51 -0400)

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The warm, happy life of the Austin family is disturbed by a spoiled, sullen girl who has been orphaned by the sudden death of her father.

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