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Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle
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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 |
recommended for: children's lit fans, Madeleine L'Engle fans

This is one of my favorite books from childhood. I first read it in 1962 when I was 9. I still enjoy the story, and all of Madeleine L'Engle's books for that matter, but I think it's probably somewhat dated; kids today might not enjoy it that much, unless they are reading it as a period piece. It's the story of a family told from the point of view of the 12 year old daughter. This is the first book about the Austin family, just as A Wrinkle In Time is the first book about Meg Murray and her family. In L'Engle's other children's books these 2 families tend to run into each other and I find it great fun to keep up with them.

And this is one time where I think the original cover (that I just uploaded and changed my reivew to this edition) should not have been changed. It's beautiful and timeless. ( )
1 vote Lisa2013 | Apr 12, 2013 |
Preachier than the Murry books, by about a mile. There's a passage about Einstein and his religious belief or lack thereof that made me laugh out loud. It was not intended to be funny, I don't think. There's more overt Christianity in this book than I remembered.

The Austin parents are idealized and improbable. The story is dating in odd ways- what with the lack of seat belts and the phone ringing in the house all night- that set it off as a period piece rather than a timeless story.

Still, it's a warm and wonderful visit to a vanished time. 3.5 stars. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
This was actually my first Madeleine L'Engle book, borrowed from the elementary school library in 4th grade. I wish I were an Austin. ( )
  purplehena | Mar 31, 2013 |
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It started out to be a nice, normal, noisy evening.
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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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