Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pure and Endless Light

Watching her grandfather’s condition deteriorate as the summer passes on beautiful Seven Bay Island is almost more than Vicky Austin can bear. To complicate things, she finds herself the center of attention for three very different boys: Leo is an old friend longing for romance; wild Zachary is sophisticated but troubled; and Adam, her older brother’s friend, offers her a wonderful chance to assist in his experiments with dolphins but treats Vicky as a young girl just when she’s ready to feel grown-up.

Why is life so hard when you’re a teenager? Vicky wonders. But this summer she discovers that past the darkness of tragedy comes the light of joy.

Title: A Ring of Endless Light
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Series: Austin Family, Book 4
Start & Finished: 3/10/08-3/11/08
Published: 1980
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Pages: 324
Genre: Young Adult-Fiction, Newbery Honor winner

“Every life is noted and is cherished, and nothing loved is ever lost or perished”, Vicky Austen writes these words in Madeleine L’Engle’s award-winning A Ring of Endless Light. Her fourth story featuring the Austen family is about death and the despair at death but also the affirmation of life and love.

When I was younger and had just discovered what the Newbery award was I stumbled across L’Engle’s arguably most famous book A Wrinkle in Time. I vaguely remember bits and pieces of the story now but I do remember how much I loved it. After she died last year I noticed more and more people discussing her works so when The Children’s Books of Yesterday chose this book as the March read it gave me the perfect excuse to move it up on my to be read list.

It was such an enchanting story! Madeline L’Engle doesn’t simply tell you a story, she shows it to you through the eyes of her main character Vicky. Many authors aren’t able to breathe life into their characters like this but she sure does. Vicky is alot like the author herself personality-wise and the entire book reflects that. The wonderful thing about L’Engle’s books is that they were marketed for young adults but never once does it seem like they talk down to the reader and they all reflect her interest in science and religion (to a degree, thankfully I haven’t yet felt like I was being preached at).

When Madeleine L’Engle died last year, the New York Times worked up a beautiful article/obit about her and her works, her most popular of which would probably be the Wrinkle in Time Quintet. There are also quite a few amazing acceptance speeches that are available on her still maintained website and Wikipedia has a few pages on her books . A Ring of Endless Light was made into a Disney Channel movie in 2002 starring Mischa Barton and Ryan Merriman but I haven’t been able to find a copy of it anywhere only a short spliced video. I’m not really sure what the whole “mermaid” thing is about though, it’s certainly not a part of the book.

Surprisingly, other than a few bumps along the way I was able to understand the story perfectly without having read any of the other books in the Austen series but here they are in order:

Meet the Austins, The Moon by Night, The Young Unicorns, A Ring of Endless Light, The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (short), Troubling a Star, A Full House: An Austen Family Christmas (short)


  1. great review as always!
    it does sound like an 'enchanting' read.

  2. p.s. I added Teresa Medeiros and Brenda Joyce to my wish list :0)

    thanks for the suggestions, I always love a good romance novel.

  3. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I love all of L'Engle's books, but for some reason this one holds a special place in my heart, and it's one I return to now and then. Reading it feels like coming home to a particular place in my childhood.

  4. I think the only book I ever read by this author was A Wrinkle in Time, and that when I was growing up. After reading your wonderful review, I will have to check this one out.

  5. I remember reading this book a long time ago and enjoyed it



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