Friday, July 10, 2009

Meet the Austins review

The Austins Family Chronicles 1: Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle

Summary (from the back of the book): For a family with four kids, two dogs, assorted cats, and a constant stream of family and friends dropping by, life in the Austin family home has always been remarkably steady and contented. When a family friend suddenly dies in a plane crash, the Austins open their home to an orphaned girl, Maggy Hamilton. The Austin children - Vicky, John, Suzy, and Rob - do their best to be generous and welcoming to Maggy.

Vicky knows she should feel sorry for Maggy, but having sympathy for Maggy is no easy thing. Maggy is moody and spoiled; she breaks toys, wakes people in the middle of the night screaming, discourages homework, and generally causes chaos in the Austin household. How can one small child disrupt a family of six? Will life in ever return to normal?

Review: Why is it that good reviews are harder to write than bad? I've been sitting here for a good five or ten minutes procrastinating like crazy (and between Twitter, Spymaster, and youtube, I can procrastinate quite well) because I didn't know how to start this. And after the last book I read, I needed a book this good. Meet the Austins was published in 1960(there was one part where the family takes a road trip and there weren't any seatbelts in the car, which is what first really made me think it was an older book), but it reads like something that could have been written yesterday, and simply set in the past.

Plot: It isn't a book of giant plot-twists, but that's perfect. It's about a year in the life of the Austin family, including them taking in Maggy when she loses her father, vacations, bike accidents, the measles. Just life in general, but it's the characters who drive the story.

Characters: Vicky Austin, the narrator, has a very unique and interesting voice. She's only twelve in this book (although it takes place over the course of a year), but she reads like someone my age or older, which is part of the reason I enjoyed this so much. She has sidenotes (you know, talking in brackets) which as we all know, I find charming, and just plain rocks.

Other characters are so much fun, so interesting and so realistic, that it makes you wish you knew people like that. Here's an example:
Our grandfather, Mother's father, lives in a stable.
Maybe I'd better explain a little about this.
Even the characters you don't think you could ever like, you end up liking. You just can't help it.

PG-13 stuff: Nada. Clean as a whistle. Not even a curse word.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: Well... it kept me up really late reading it, but that isn't really a bad thing. Hmm... I can't think of anything, really.

Cover comments: I love the cover. The middle part looks like a stamp, and is really quite detailed. You can click the picture to make it bigger, or check out this picture, which is of the audiobook cover, but it's larger. Then because I was curious, I googled, and I found these four covers. (Click to see larger pictures). Aren't they cute?

Conclusion: Madeleine L'Engle has been one of my favourite authors for years, and Meet the Austins is just as good as anything else of hers I've read. I'm so glad that they reprinted these (and my library got them) because I probably wouldn't have read them if they hadn't, and wouldn't that be a shame? Four and a half roses.

Peace and cookies,

Note: I probably won't do reviews of the other books. They'd just be super gushy, because... well, they're really good, and I've already finished The Moon by Night and I didn't take any notes, so my review wouldn't be very good, anyways. But I'm going include a list of the books below this for anyone who wants it, so check it out!

(List is from the back of the book, and this is how I'm reading them. It's from a cast of the characters thing.)

Books featuring the Austins:
Meet the Austins
The Moon by Night
The Young Unicorns
A Ring of Endless Light
Troubling A Star
The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas (Prequel)

Books Featuring the Murry-O'Keefes:
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
An Acceptable Time
The Arm of the Starfish
Dragons in the Waters
A House Like Lotus


  1. I really enjoyed "Meet The Austins" but I had a terrible time getting through the second book. I'm glad you liked the second book better then I did!

  2. I liked this book--I reread it recently, but I did find it a little too G-rated at times. Like, very sentimental and white-washed. But they were a nice family overall.

  3. Iryna: Really? I quite liked the second one. The third one was a bit difficilt for me, but it was in third-person and switching from first to third is always hard for me.

    Sadako: Well, you have to remember it was set in like the fifties or earlier. It was published in 1960, so... and Vicky was only 13 or so in the first one, so we were seeing things through her eyes.

  4. How lovely to find a review of this old favorite of mine! I adore this series and it seems they didn't get as much love as her other books. I know reviews of the rest of the series would be gushy but I would read them! I love all of the books. Have you read A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT yet? That one is particularly wonderful. Thanks for the review!

  5. Angiegirl: Most of the reason I read them was that they'd been reprinted (I'd been meaning to, but you know how the to-read list thing is, lol). I have read the others, I just didn't have the time to review them all as they were from the library. I'd actually read A Ring of Endless Light a few years ago and loved it, but rereading it along with the others in the series really added something to it. And I read the ending about five times!


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