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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book with food for thought, August 23, 2010
This review is from: Meet the Austins: Book One of The Austin Family Chronicles (Paperback)
Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite authors, and "A Wrinkle in Time" has been one of my most loved books since I was a child, also in the 60's. I read "Meet the Austins" later, many times, and really liked the family, except for Suzy. Never could stand her, especially as the books went on. She supposedly had it all, brains, looks, personality, while Vicky felt plain and boring, yet she took every opportunity to shoot Vicky down.

I hadn't thought much about their family dynamics other than they were pretty close to being a "perfect" family, which was nice to read about, especially if one didn't happen to have the same at home. One thing that really stood out for me though, was that the Austins were supposed to be the embodiment of a loving, secure family with good Christian values. Yet, when sad, unhappy Maggy comes to live with them, every one of the kids loathed her and wanted her out of their lives. It didn't seem like they ever really tried to put themselves in Maggy's place, even for a minute, and think what her life was like. The parents made only one halfhearted attempt to point out that Maggy had never known one moment of what they took for granted, never known love, security, or a real family. No one even gave a thought, as they were feeling so bad for Elena, that Maggy had lost both her parents within a month. Where did the "good Christian values" go as soon as they had one test of those values? I don't think being a good Christian just means loving the people that are easy to get along with and who love you. I wondered also why Elena wanted Maggy to live with her, after she had been several years at the Austins', and had only known Maggy and her father one month before his death.

The other thing I never understood about the Austin series is that as soon as Maggy went to live with Elena,at the beginning of "The Moon By Night," after living with the Austins for years, she was never mentioned again, except for the LA visit. A part of the family is suddenly not there anymore and it's "out of sight, out of mind?' It was the same with Emily in "the Young Unicorns." That just seemed so odd to me.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 30, 2011, 11:49:20 AM PDT
Ariel says:
Yeah, I remember Vicky complaining about Maggy always touching their stuff, picking it up and looking at it, and she found that so rude. Perhaps this is not what I was meant to infer, but it seemed to me that to Maggy, the Austins' belongings were artifacts. She'd never been part of a family, or really even experienced one before, so she was curious about how these people lived, what they did, what their lives were like. And I agree: it always seemed okay for the Austins to squabble among themselves, but Maggy better not ever disturb them or else.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2012, 2:10:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 2, 2012, 2:11:12 AM PST
susannah says:
I remember that part in the book and I think you are right, that Maggy was just trying to figure out what a family was and how to live in one. The 'artifacts" theory is interesting and most likely what was intended. It just really irks me, as an adult, that the kids had so little empathy or compassion for Maggy, when they had been surrounded with love and acceptance their whole lives. Another thing I was thinking of is the incident with Maggy and Rob on the beach, when Rob takes off on the boat? It occurred to me to wonder why the two oldest children and the grandfather were cool with leaving the younger children on the beach by themselves, without supervision, in the first place? But of course, it was "all Maggy's fault."

Posted on May 4, 2012, 11:27:44 AM PDT
C. Green says:
The parents had a very thoughtful discussion with the children, not some half-hearted attempt. And any child--even those raised with a strong moral and values structure, will resent a newcomer who invades their space and turns their routine upside-down. Why? Because they *are* children. Kids really do not like change, and Maggy was challenging them implicitly. It sounds to me as though your comment is more about placing "good Christian values" on trial, rather than realistically evaluating the book, as though you have a chip on your shoulder about their belief system. Christians, like those of any other religion and those of no religion, are human beings as well. The Austin children struggle to keep to remember their teachings when a chaotic force like Maggie upends their lives.
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