Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle

Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'EngleTakeaway: I am glad that we have moved past the point where children’s books have to be completely wholesome and teach morals.  Because they can be a bit boring.

Over the last few years I have been trying to read more old books.  Originally published in 1960, Meet the Austins gets counted as an old book because it was published before I was born.

I have read more of L’Engle’s books than just the Wrinkle in Time series as a child, but I had not read Meet the Austins.  Meet the Austins feels like a mid 20th century children’s book.

L’Engle’s Camilia and And Both Were Young were written before this book, but were much more young adult than children’s and they did not feel as dated.

There is just not much that happens in this book.  The Austins are a happy family.  There are four children, John, Vicky, Suzy and Rob.  Wally (the father) is a rural country doctor.  Victoria is the mother.

Soon after the book starts Maggy is added to the family.  She is a spoiled brat of a child, but her mother and father were separated when she was young.  Her mother was more interested in parties than her daughter.  But Maggy’s Mom died of pneumonia.  Maggy moved in with her father.  A month later her father died in a plane crash (he was a test pilot). Maggy moving in is really the big event of the book.  Well they also go visit their grandfather, can’t forget that.

Vicky (the narrator of the book) has to adjust to Maggy and describes the problems and joys.  Vicky also describes her own problems and joys.  She seems pretty similar to Meg from the Wrinkle in Time books, just younger.

The writing is good, it has good values, there is no language, sex or violence.  I think that many who like Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables, and are 12 and under, would probably enjoy the book.  Others would probably be bored.

As an interesting side note, there was a chapter that was censored out of the original edition and was not included in the book until 1992.  It is about the ‘anti-muffin’ club.  The Austin children have a club with neighborhood children that celebrates diversity and rejects desiring to be like everyone else.  Some of the kids in the club are poor, one is hispanic, one has divorced parents. The fact that this chapter was banned seems incredible.

Meet the Austins Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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