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Troubling a Star: The Austin Family Chronicles, Book 5 Hardcover – September 30, 1994

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 16 years
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (September 30, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374377839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374377830
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,801,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vicky Austin, the poetry-writing heroine of four of the Newbery Medalist's previous novels, finds herself caught in a web of political intrigue in this exotic, multilayered thriller. The high school junior is overjoyed when given the opportunity to travel to Antarctica to visit good friend Adam Eddington (introduced in A Ring of Endless Light ), a college student majoring in marine biology. Her enthusiasm wanes only slightly after she receives mysterious notes warning her to stay home. When she embarks on her journey, danger indeed seems to lurk around every corner--in one tense scene atop a pyramid, she is nearly pushed to her death. Her traveling companions, a colorful lot, include Otto, prince of Zlatovica; Esteban, a tour guide; and various eccentrics; as the voyage continues, their odd behavior intensifies Vicky's suspicions. Interspersed with flash-forwards of Vicky stranded on an iceberg, the intricate story line mounts in suspense. L'Engle, writing for a sophisticated audience, contrasts the purity of a frozen paradise with the burning greed of humans, and her stunning descriptions of the Antarctic waters and their inhabitants transmit a strong ecological message. Good overcomes evil in the end, but enough loose threads remain to suggest further adventures for the intrepid Vicky and Adam. Ages 12-up. 50,000 first printing.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-In this fourth book about the Austin family, Vicky is almost 16. Adam Eddington, her budding love interest in A Ring of Endless Light (Dell, 1981), is headed for a marine-biology internship in Antarctica. His wealthy great-aunt is so taken with Vicky that she gives the young woman a trip there for her birthday. However, politics and international wheeling and dealing quickly turn the opportunity of a lifetime into a fight for survival as Vicky becomes a pawn in the struggles that surround her. Readers know that trouble is in store from the onset, as each chapter begins with an italicized paragraph of her terrified musings while she waits to be rescued from the iceberg upon which she is stranded. Most of the intrigue is centered on the tiny South American country of Vespugia, which will be familiar to readers of A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Farrar, 1978). There is no fantasy here, though-only human foibles such as greed and waste as the environmentalists who want to protect this continent and the various interest groups, who prefer to use it for personal gain, squabble. The narrative is interspersed with the poetry Vicky often uses to express her feelings, and with lively descriptions of the wildlife and habitats of Antarctica. The mystery itself is fairly transparent, even predictable. Those YAs who are accustomed to more contemporary realism in their novels may find the Austins, with their wholesome, intellectual lifestyle and their thoughtful, well-connected friends, as close to fantasy as one can get while remaining on Earth. Hopefully, though, they'll be able to suspend their disbelief long enough to enjoy Vicky's adventure.
Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Madeleine L'Engle, the popular author of many books for children and adults, has interspersed her writing and teaching career with raising three children, maintaining an apartment in New York and a farmhouse of charming confusion which is called "Crosswicks."

Customer Reviews

This book is a very suspenseful book.
I first read her `Wrinkle in Time" series then found one of her Adult novels, "A Severed Wasp"-my all time favorite book.
Brick ONeil
It does so, very well indeed, as a mystery/thriller for a young adult audience.
Nina M. Osier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on November 19, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Returning to tiny Thornhill, Connecticut after living for a year in New York City, Vicky Austin discovers that she no longer fits in there. After she gets an unexpected call from Adam Eddington, a marine biology student whom she met during the eventful summer just past, Vicky finds herself developing a warm friendship with Adam's great-aunt in a nearby village. The whole Austin family reaches out to this wealthy but lonely old lady, who astonishes everyone by giving Vicky an extraordinary sixteenth birthday gift: a trip to Antarctica.
Adam will be there already, working at a research station named for his uncle - an explorer who disappeared in that area. Vicky's excitement is tempered by a series of apparent warnings, as she prepares to leave for Vespugia (a small South American country in turmoil), the Falkland Islands, and finally Eddington Station. She remembers those warnings, and wishes she hadn't kept them from her parents, as her trip unfolds and one mysterious event follows after another.
I was a bit disappointed that Vicky's extraordinary experiences in A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT, the book before this one in the Austin Series, play no part in TROUBLING A STAR. We hear about her beloved grandfather's death and her budding romance with Adam Eddington when Vicky thinks of last summer, but the dolphins with whom she communicated so remarkably seem forgotten. However, this book is clearly intended to stand on its own. It does so, very well indeed, as a mystery/thriller for a young adult audience. It generates suspense and then maintains it, with L'Engle's memorable heroine Vicky Austin taking more steps toward maturity while remaining solidly in character.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I've just finished reading this a second time, so that should be some evidence of how good this book is. Although, I think "Ring of Endless Light" was better, though not too much, and that's also saying something because I think AROEL is one of the best books I've ever read. Okay, okay, I'm biased because I'm a huge L'Engle fan.
But this is really a good book. It is a bit long, compared to other L'engle books and other YA books, but it's worth the length. I loved reading more about Vicky, and I really hope there'll be more books written about her. The other smaller characters are equally good, and I loved the new characters that were introduced almost as much as I loved seeing my old favorites again. Aunt Serena is awesome, and she seems to be exactly the kind of person who would be related to Adam. Ah yes, Adam. That's one wish I have; that we could've seen more of Adam. Maybe next book.
I loved the wonderful descriptions of Antarica, and even though I had no remote interest about the southern-most continent before, this book has sparked something.
One more thing I love about this book (or rather, all of L'Engle's work) is the way all her books are inter-connected in ways, sometimes such little things, but I noticed them at the second reading. For instance, the mention of "El Zarco" and the part Vespugia plays. (both from Swiftly Tilting Planet, which is, BTW, a great book) And, (this is a really minor thing) but I loved the mention that Esteban was descended from Welsh immigrants (remember all the welsh people in STP?) and that the Vespugian dictator is named Guedder. (remember gudder from STP?)
That wasn't even everything. But it just shows that this book is deep, much deeper than it first appears.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 14, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm a college student, which I suppose means I should be reading college-type books. I do, of course, but every so often I will indulge myself in an old favorite from my adolescence. One of those is 'Ring of Endless Light,' and when I found that L'Engle had written a sequel I snapped it up eagerly. I simply HAD to know the fate of Adam (whom *I* have a crush on and am actively seeking at my school <grin>) and the pensive Vicki.
I admit, it took me *three* reads to "get" the plot of this book. I'm not scientifically-minded and, to be honest, it bores me, so really, I didn't pay much attention to the nitty-gritty bits of the plot. Instead I focused on Vicki, who reminds me of myself at that age, when everything was simply *fraught* with meaning, whether it be a sidelong glance or a mysterious trunk thrown overoboard. I enjoy L'Engles writing style, which occasionally seems a bit posh, but that's coming from a fellow writer with minimalist leanings. <grin>
I highly recommend Ring of Endless Light in conjunction with Troubling A Star as required reading for any teenager and/or adult looking for something a little different from the mundane soft-serve fiction offered in recent times. I especially urge all young women to read these books, because I believe it encourages logical thinking, emotional strength and curiousity in the people who need it most: girls.
Thanks, L'Engle.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'd always been a huge fan of the Wrinkle in Time series, but I was always bored with the books about the Austins until I read Troubling a Star. The Vespugia stuff always goes over my head, but besides that it's a fabulous book with great characters and tons of suspense. When I first read this book in seventh grade I became obsessed with going to Antarctica. This January, three years later, I actually went there, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I know I'm going to go back someday because it was so, so wonderful. One of the first things I did when I got hom was to search through my bookshelves and read Troubling a Star again- after all it had largely been what had inspired my trip in the first place, although I had only read it that one time three years ago. As I read it again (and all in one night) it was far more meaningful than before. I'll stop rambling now, but please please read this book because it's just awesome.
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