Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
This is the other major series that Madeleine L’Engle wrote. I’ve read Meet the Austins and A Ring of Endless Light before, so I’m excited to see how the rest of the series develops. I do think this book skews slightly younger and ages up as it progresses, so I’ll be interested to see how the rest of the series holds up.
Meet the Austins is, quite literally, an introduction to the Austin family. Wally Austin is a doctor, his wife Victoria takes care of the family, plays music, and in general keeps the family together. Their children are John, Vicky, Suzy, and Rob. They have a Great Dane named Mr. Rochester and a poodle named Colette. At the beginning of the novel, their family friend dies, and his co-pilot also dies, leaving behind a little girl. The Austins agree to take in Maggie, but it’s a series of struggles and reconciliations that help them grow as a family. While the entire family is featured, it’s really Vicky’s story and Vicky’s perspective that we get introduced to and follow throughout the story (and a good deal of the series, if I’m not mistaken).
This book reads something like the first half of Little Women, although it’s a bit less didactic. L’Engle’s faith and family values emerge strongly here, but it’s not in-your-face or overtly preachy. You don’t have to be a person of faith to enjoy this book, but it certainly emphasizes family over fantasy, so don’t be expecting it to be similar to the Time books.