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The Arm of the Starfish (O'Keefe Family, Book 1)
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The Arm of the Starfish (O'Keefe Family #1)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  7,341 ratings  ·  218 reviews

When Adam Eddington, a gifted marine biology student, makes the acquaintance of blond and beautiful Kali Cutter at Kennedy International Airport on his way to Portugal to spend the summer working for the renowned scientist Dr. O’Keefe, he has no idea that this seemingly chance meeting will set into motion a chain of events he will be unable to stop. Caught between Kali’s s

Mass Market Paperback, 0 pages
Published 1980 by Laurel-Leaf Books (first published 1965)
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Jennifer Klenz
This book influenced me to become a scientist. It takes a heck of a lot more skill to write a really good "kid's book" than a best selling adult novel. Madeleine L'Engle once said that when she had something really important to say she put it in a children's book.
Not only did this book influence my career choice but I would like to say it reinforced my character. If you only choose the right way when its easy what's the point?
I just love Madeleine L'Engle books. I love the families she gives most (main) characters-- strong, unique, loving, intellectual, spiritual families. I've only read her YA and JF books, but the themes aren't childish-- they deal with death, hard choices, and good and evil-- but she doesn't leave you feeling like the world is a horrible place to live. I would say that if there is any set of "book families" that I would want to model my parenting after, it would probably be the ones found in Madel ...more
When Madeleine L'Engle creates a character they seldom appear in only one book, or even just one series for that matter. In The Arm of the Starfish a few of L'Engle's beloved characters from her Newberry Award winning book, A Wrinkle in Time, appear older, wiser and as parents.

Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe met in Wrinkle, but by Starfish have married, had six children and live on the island of Gaea off of western Europe. Calvin - now called Dr. O'Keefe - is a successful marine biologist whose dis
joey carr's mother was a librarian at one of the local high schools, and she found out i was a huge fan of l'engle. she recommended this to me, telling me that she had actually written books for adults and teenagers, outside of the wrinkle universe. (or as l'engle herself divides them, chronos (austins) and kairos (murrays), with characters intersecting both worlds - canon talis, zachary, and adam.)

anyway, i saved this book for a particularly rotten day, thinking that i needed a good comforting
This packs an unexpected punch. I had written this book off as belonging to the "not-so-great" category that some of L'Engle's lesser-known books for teens sadly fall into, but despite the difficulty I had getting into the story initially, in the end it surprised me. After spending weeks dipping into it, then being distracted by other, shinier books, I consumed the last third in a single day, and even found myself tearing up at the soliloquy on love and loss. Even when not at her best, Madeleine ...more
David Gregg
Excellent book! For the first almost-quarter of the book, I thought the story was hackneyed and unimaginative, but as I discovered later, the way-too-coincidental "accidents" that occur early on weren't at all coincidental, and the seemingly-improbable were provided truly plausible and satisfying explanations that managed to resolve conclusively all my uncertainties about the ability of the author. The story progressed with rapidity through a number of unexpected turns. It was pleasingly full of ...more
Anne Seebach
I read this book many years ago, and only had a fairly vague memory of the story before picking it up to re-read now. I did enjoy the book, but not as much as the novels in the associated 'Time' series. I felt that the main character Adam spent so much time feeling confused, and thinking about feeling confused, that the other characters became very peripheral. Ms. L'Engle did tend to focus on one character fairly heavily in most of her books I've read to date, but this one seemed more marked. I ...more
Rebekah Choat

Sixteen-year-old Adam Eddington, a gifted marine biology student, is en route to Portugal for a summer job assisting renowned scientist Dr. Calvin O’Keefe when he encounters gorgeous Kali Cutter in an airport. This “chance” meeting thrusts him into a fast-moving power struggle between those who would rightly limit the use of an amazing scientific discovery and those who would manipulate it with concern only for their own gain. Through a whirlwind of necessarily instantaneous decisions a
First of all, ADAM EDDINGTON OMG. I LOVE Adam. He is easily in the top five characters in all of L'Engle's books. He's also the anti-Zachary Gray; his appearance in a book is an automatic plus a million, while Zachary is an automatic minus a million. (Commander Rodney should have let him drown in Ring. And since he didn't, Poly should have let him drown in Lotus. Third time the charm?*)

Anyway, Starfish is a lot of fun. Adam spends a bit too much time trying to make up his mind about whose side t
Madeleine L’Engle is my favorite writer, and The Arm of the Starfish is one of best books I have ever read. Adam Eddington is the main character and the hero of this story. Adam is a young biology student who is offered the opportunity of working with Dr. O’Keefe, one of the most famous scientists of his time. Dr. O’Keefe is working on a project involving limb regeneration, and if his work got into the wrong hands it could be very dangerous. Adam was recommended by a friend to work for Dr. O’Kee ...more
Really good young adult fiction here. Goes up on the list with Z for Zachariah, Ender's Game, and Feed as one of my favorite books written for young people. A few things I really liked about it:

• There was genuine ambiguity in the characters. L'Engle wrong-foots you from the beginning, and even when you think you've got everything sorted, she'll throw another monkey-wrench in the gears.

• The links to previous L'Engle books was fun. I was really confused when Adam got to the O'Keefe's house, and
Thousandth-time reread. I had MANY THOUGHTS. Like, I see now that it wouldn't have been that big of a deal for Temis to lose a finger--doubtless the natives would have been used to that--certainly not worth possibly giving her a flesh-devouring disease. And it is hard NOT to read gay subtext between Adam and Joshua. If I didn't know that it would have been basically impossible for Madeleine L'Engle to write something like that without it being weird, creepy, and all-wrong, I would be convinced o ...more
Sabrina Bellesbach
Ughh...I would of liked this book, even with its obvious plot almost spelled out for you on every page- with everyone in the knowing of it but, our poor, main character, Adam... but seriously?... Why Joshua? :(
Somehow I have managed to work around my busy movie-watching, clothes shopping, lunching schedule to reread some of the kids books in my basement. Frankly, I think this book is amazing, A lot of adult novels (and movies for that matter) tend to go so far out of their way to make a point that they lose track of plot. This plot, although written for 12 year olds, is perfectly paced and still manages to make a point. Yes, some of the teenage stuff is awkward, but still. I'll take it over Zach Braff ...more
E. Ce Miller
When Adam Eddington meets the gorgeous, but suspect, Kali Cutter in JFK Airport, on his way to a summer job in Lisbon, he is thrust into a complicated world he's been ill-prepared for: one of coded poetry, secret societies, power struggles, and scientific warfare.

Adam proves himself to be forthcoming, honest, and wholly naive; not the kind of teammate I would necessarily care for in battling against forces unknown. He sides with Kali immediately, and is unwavering in this decision for far too m
Adam gets the opportunity to work with Dr. O'Keefe and to study the regeneration qualities of starfish. Before he can make it to Portugal, where he will be working, he meets Kali, a girl who warns him that the O'Keefes and their research and their friends are bad. On the plane he meets the O'keefe oldest daughter, Polly, and through circumstances Polly is placed in Adam's care where she then gets abducted. He meets Kali again and she says she can help find Polly, so Adam goes with her even thoug ...more
I never quite got to the O'Keefe Family stories back in Germany. I notice that these stories so far, though using females to push along the story on both side of the fight, this story at least places the boys in control. The women are helpmeets and protectresses and tools for manipulation rather than intelligent beings. I hope that the second story rights this somewhat.

Adam steps into an airport and a world of intrigue. I wonder at the role of a 16 year old playing as a man because he is going
Christy Sibila
Few books have made the transition from my childhood to adult shelf, but this book is a really fun mystery. I never read the rest of the series, actually, but if you are looking for something that is Madeleine L'Engle deep (which all fans of A Wrinkle In Time series know can be very deep indeed), or if your teenager is looking for something to read, check out The Arm of the Starfish. And if you read any of the other books in the series, let me know if they are any good. I may have to read them m ...more
This is the second time around reading this, and I actually think I enjoyed it better the first time. It was still great, but I didn't wait long enough in between reading it the first time, and then reading it again. I knew exactly what was going to happen, so it kind of took the pleasure out of reading the book.

But this is a great book; definitly in the top five best Madeline L'Engle books!
I read all of the Time Quintet first and then started the story of the O'Keefs. Apparently, people have suggested to read 1-4 of the Wrinkle in Time series THEN read these three about the O'Keefs and then read the 5th book "An Acceptable Time" because Polly is about 12 in this book and she is 16 in the 5th time book. That said now let's discuss the book... Obviously since I read the books in the order I did it gave away a few details about later on in Polly's life. I don't think they gave very m ...more
Michael Fitzgerald
Intrigue! Espionage! Double agents! I was rather surprised by the rapid appearance of these elements. There are still enough of the usual L'Engle traits recognizable in the O'Keefe family and their actions and beliefs but this book introduces elements of science, politics, morality, and mortality in a way that is different from the author's two other series.
Sigh. One begins to feel very possessive of Adam.

Laurie can help me out here since I have not reread some of these for years but didn't M L'E mess up her generations here, making Adam a contemporary of Meg's daughter but also of Vicky Austin, when logically Vicky and Meg should be the roughly the same age.
It's astonishing that this book was written by the same author as A Wrinkle in Time. Terrible dialogue, boring characters, convoluted plot, and overwrought puppy love so contrived I almost began to rethink my whole Twilight-is-the-worst-love-story-ever position.
Holy Shit. The cover on this book looks cheesy; in 1989 it ruled. And I think it still does. I'll let y'all know. It is all about a starfish's ability to regenerate, within a teenage romance.
I read this novelette as a teen and - I have a sketchy memory for most books - believe I enjoyed it. When I ran across a reference to it some weeks ago I thought I'd run through it again and checked it out of the local library. Somehow, I had ascribed to it a mystery and depth that I wasn't able to pick up again, reading it with some 40+ years of life experience now under my belt, but that doesn't reduce it necessarily in value for the pre-teen and YA set. L'Engle is a fine writer and her storyl ...more
Robby Pettit
This book was, as many of Madeline L'Engle's books are, pretty good. The book have me something to do while reading on the beach, though at some points I would rather have read something else.
So, in order of things I liked and that I didn't like:
#1. The science was great, like it normally is, though it was nothing compared to the science of the tesseract.
#2. The villains were very convincingly evil.
#3. There were some twists and turns along the way, though not many.
#4. They touched on some prof
I suspect I have reread this book and its sequels more than I have reread A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels.

I connected a fair amount with poor confused Adam.

What I learned from this book:
Science is not inherently good. People wear masks to influence people - and not even remotely always in good ways. Naive =/= inherently bad. Sexual attraction (whatever that is) can prompt poor decision-making.

(Note: "what I learned" is with regard to the time of first reading, rather than to later readings. In
First read in fifth grade instead of whatever I was supposed to be reading at the time. Good choice, me!
Catherine Gillespie
Having read so much of her non-fiction, I decided to re-read some of L’Engle’s novels.

I totally enjoyed re-reading these books from an adult perspective. The O’Keefe series of books follows the children of Meg and Calvin from the first four books of the time quintet. This series is less about time but still about science and ethics. They are more like mysteries.

{Read my full review of some L'Engle non-fiction and two of her fiction series here}
James Prothero
Another great L'Engle book.
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Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her Young Adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regener ...more
More about Madeleine L'Engle...

Other Books in the Series

O'Keefe Family (4 books)
  • Dragons in the Waters (O'Keefe Family, #2)
  • A House Like a Lotus (O'Keefe Family, #3)
  • An Acceptable Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #5)
A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1) A Wind in the Door (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #2) A Swiftly Tilting Planet (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #3) Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4) A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #5)

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