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Meet the Austins (Austin Family #1)

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,524 Ratings  ·  299 Reviews
For a family with four kids, two dogs, assorted cats, and a constant stream of family and friends dropping by, life in the Austin family home has always been remarkably steady and contented. When a family friend suddenly dies in a plane crash, the Austins open their home to an orphaned girl, Maggy Hamilton. The Austin children — Vicky, John, Suzy, and Rob — do their best t ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Square Fish (first published 1960)
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Meet the Austins, what can I say about this book, but that it is a favourite, and will always be thus. I love everything about this gem of a novel, from the loving and episodic (but never tedious) descriptions of family life (some of these might well be a bit dated, but that has always been part of, or rather much of the charm), the nuanced and for a children's book lushly and highly developed character descriptions and yes, even the messages presented (I very much appreciate that issues such as ...more
Jan 23, 2010 NebraskaIcebergs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Here’s the funny thing about Meet the Austins. When I read it in elementary school, I found the pace slow and so almost never discovered Madeleine L’Engle. I reread Meet the Austins only after I fell for Madeleine L’Engle’s other books. Yet now upon rereading the Austin books, Meet the Austins is by far my favorite because of its rich thematic depth. The rest of the world almost never discovered Meet the Austins either, given that it was rejected by publishers for two years. Why? Because Madelei ...more
Mar 04, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathryn by: Lisa Vegan--thank you!!!
Because I probably won't find time to write the thorough review this gem deserves, here are a few quick thoughts:

I loved the story. I felt an immediate bond with the characters and was so caught up in the story. I really appreciated how the story dealt with some difficult, real-life subjects while maintaining warmth, heart and humor. I wish I really could meet the Austin family ;-) And go visit Grandpa and his amazing home--I think I'm adding The Stables to my dream-libraries list, especially si
Moonlight Reader
Jan 17, 2016 Moonlight Reader rated it liked it
Shelves: read-women-2016
Written in episodic form, this is the introduction to L'Engle's second favorite family, the Austins. Unlike many of her books, this one has no science fiction elements. It is the story of a family of 4 children, 2 dogs, and a bunch of cats, living in a rambling house on a hill in small town New England. Little of consequence happens: an orphaned child joins the family and behaves badly, the narrator falls off her bike and breaks her arm, ice storms rage, meals are cooked and eaten, books are rea ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all young teens (maybe mostly the female ones)
This is a novel about a family whose members share their experiences with each other, who accept each each member with love, trusting each other enough to not feel the need to hide things. We could all learn a thing or two from them.

I've read other books in the Austin family series before this one; out of order too. I love A Ring of Endless Light so much, my copy of it is literally falling apart. Recently I decided I really ought to start at the beginning.
I was very glad I did. I can't get enoug
Lisa Vegan
Sep 03, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children's lit fans, Madeleine L'Engle fans
This is one of my favorite books from childhood. I first read it in 1962 when I was 9. I still enjoy the story, and all of Madeleine L'Engle's books for that matter, but I think it's probably somewhat dated; kids today might not enjoy it that much, unless they are reading it as a period piece. It's the story of a family told from the point of view of the 12 year old daughter. This is the first book about the Austin family, just as A Wrinkle In Time is the first book about Meg Murray and her fami ...more
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
3.5 stars.

Despite my enduring love for Madeleine L'Engle and my obsession with her lesser-known heroine Vicky Austin, for some reason I never quite got to Meet the Austins. Maybe because I knew that it didn't involve any of the scientific elements that feature in so many of her later novels, maybe because Vicky is only 12 in this novel. I'm grateful that my book club forced me to finally read it! Meet the Austins is a very sweet middle-grade, and a great introduction to the loving, warm Austin
Tiffany Reisz
Apr 04, 2015 Tiffany Reisz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a L'Engle book I didn't love. Books about happy intact families are rather rare since they aren't inherently dramatic but L'Engle still manages to show the drama, romance, and bravery in everyday living.
Dec 02, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids 11 and up

When Meet the Austins was published in 1960, Madeleine L'Engle was two years away from publishing her break out book A Wrinkle in Time. Somewhere I read that she was quite discouraged as an author at this time, even though she had been writing stories since childhood. She got published but prior to Wrinkle in Time her books had not sold well. In the long run, Meet the Austins grew into her second most well-known series.

I loved this book. It has all the charm of my favorite
Jun 22, 2015 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
In my upper years of grade school, I discovered Madeleine L'Engle's Time Trilogy (at the time it was a trilogy) and my literary world changed. The sense of wonder those books awakened served as my gateway to the realms of science fiction and fantasy. At least, that's how I remember it. In any case, she was a "favorite author" and A Wrinkle in Time was the best book ever. And yet, for some reason I did not explore much of her work beyond these books. It was probably because, despite some of the t ...more
Molly Billygoat
Surprisingly unlike Madeleine L'Engle's more famous and fantastical works, such as "A Wrinkle in Time," Meet the Austins is a mystery centered around a family so loving yet vulnerable as to be almost Von Trapp-like. L'Engle's prose has to it a classic feel, and each character is introduced sporadically, so as the reader is unsure who is most seriously embroiled in the mystery.

Set in New York, this rather naive family find themselves caught in what appears to be some kind of conspiracy with the c
Jul 13, 2015 Terzah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an off-the-cuff re-read. I was in the Children's area of the library with my kids, who had become absorbed in their own books, and I suddenly had an itch for Madeleine L'Engle. So I grabbed this one off the shelf. I didn't recall reading it when I was young, but I must have, because as soon as I got into it, I realized passages of it had stayed in my subconscious. I also realized how Vicky Austin, like Anne Shirley and Emily Starr, had influenced my view of both myself and the world aro ...more
Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle is an episodic type book about events in the lives of the Austin family. The book starts off with them being informed of the death of a close family friend and then shortly afterward they take in a little girl who was orphaned due to the same accident that killed their friend. The child turns out to be a difficult spoiled brat and it takes the family a long time to adjust to her living with them. Each chapter tells of different random events in the lives of ...more
Cara Olsen
Jan 04, 2014 Cara Olsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'Engle's novels, especially her Austin cannon, make it very difficult on the reader to leave behind the world in which strong connections and indelible memories have been made. Usually, when I've finished a book, I'll just sit there and let myself feel warm and full and contented, and maybe just a little sad it's over. That was true as well for this time.
When I was little, I used to watch The Cosby Show every day. And if any of the Cosby's had ever appeared on my doorstep offering to take me h
Feb 03, 2012 E.L. rated it it was amazing
Recommended to E.L. by: Cathy
The Austins manage in this, the first book featuring them, to be real, idealistic, and lovable all at once. None of them are perfect, but overall they represents exactly what I long for most - a family of loving, thinking, laughing individuals. I can never read a dinnertime scene without fiercely wishing for that in my own house.

If you are looking for an exciting story, this isn't it. If you are looking for a story that seems simple on the surface, yet simmers with quiet joy underneath, that sta
Hannah  Messler
Aug 26, 2008 Hannah Messler rated it liked it
Eh. I go all bonkers for kids books usually, and I am going to keep reading this series, but jeez, Madeleine! This book is like 90% telling! Duh, didn't you take Creative Writing where they teach you to SHOW?
Melissa (YA Book Shelf)

I liked this book, but I know I would have loved it as a kid. One of my favourite moments was when Vicky, John, and their mother go up to the hill to look at the stars and talk for half an hour. The way Vicky talks about the connection that she feels to them and the love passing through them back and forth is touching, and the way they describe the stars as making them feel small in comparison to the world and universe at large is powerful. It's just one aspect that shows how wonderful each
Annagrace K.
The girls and I read this aloud a few years ago but Adeleine asked for it again as she couldn't remember it, and as we'd just enjoyed our fourth annual Christmas reading of The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas (a prequel to this book). I notice new things each time I open this beloved friend of a book. At first The Austins were the family I longed for. They were a trustworthy place to come to for details of childhood dreams of belonging. Next I saw them with deep gratitude. They were exactly as ...more
Nancy Butts
Dec 04, 2013 Nancy Butts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
At last! A beloved book from my childhood that seems as wondrous to me now as it did then. I've been re-reading a lot of books by my girlhood favorite Madeleine L'Engle recently, and I'm afraid that most of them have disappointed me, sometimes sorely. But not this one. It is just as warm and glowing and loving and generous and perceptive as I remembered. I still adore this book about the Austins and their 200-year-old farmhouse Thornhill and their musical mother and doctor father and the dogs, C ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Andree rated it liked it
Shelves: re-read, 2013
You know, I remembered absolutely nothing about this book. It's been a while since I've read it, but still. It was a bit ridiculous. I actually remembered nothing, to the extent that it was almost like reading it again.

This one has never been one of my favourites though. I may have only ever read it once before now. Maybe twice. I don't dislike it, but it's never really stuck out for me. I think part of it is that I've never been a huge fan of the Maggy plotline, I guess. I do love John and Vick
Millie Shumway
Oct 23, 2012 Millie Shumway rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-12
The Austins seem like the perfect family. Then one day their blissful lives are interrupted by a tragedy. A family friend and his copilot were killed in a plane accident, leaving behind a ten-year old spoiled brat, Maggy who has nowhere to stay. She lives with the Austins, and their adventures begin. She has a big influence on the Austins' daughter Suzy who starts getting into trouble with Maggy. The story follows their life together and adjustments they have to make for Maggy. It is narrated by ...more
Dec 18, 2011 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Hallelujah! We finally finished this book! We started it about nine months ago...

This is an interesting tale of a family's life in rural Vermont, filled with moral lessons, compassion and anecdotes that are at times sad, funny or happy. The family eschewed the materialism that seems to plague Americans; and the traditions and principles that the family holds dear are ones that we could all likely benefit from in our own lives. The tale has an old fashioned feel to it, which makes sense as the st
Mar 31, 2011 Bookchick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
This was one of my favorite series in middle school, I can only presume because of the wholesomeness of the Austin family. I wanted to be part of their happy, accepting, interactive family. Rereading these books as an adult, I am struck by how preachy they are, definitely an opportunity for L'Engle to express her thoughts about many subjects. I don't disagree with her philosophy, but much of the dialogue seems forced in the stories. However, as an adult, I think I am understanding and benefiting ...more
I liked this. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would because the main character is twelve years old and I am, well not that age any more. But I could still relate to Vicky, like a lot -especially with regards to her family and how it worked. There was a line in here in which her mom told Vicky her being moody is partly due to her age but MOSTLY due to her and I laughed because that sounded exactly like something my mom would have told me at that age.

I think I would have liked this a LOT
3.5 stars

It took me about 30 pages to really get into this book but once I did, I was delighted. I can't wait to read more about the Austin family! They seem like such a down to earth family, a bit of sibling squabbling but they still love each other at the end of the day. The family probably seems "quaint" by today's standards but I love how the mother takes care of her husband and children, the father works hard to provide for his family, and the children have chores and are expected to mind t
Feb 12, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading L'Engle's memoir Two-Part Invention put me in the mood to reread this old favorite for the umpteenth time. The Austin family shaped my ideal of family life: the classical music as soundtrack, the bustling happy chaos, the spirited discussions of literature and art and religion, the homey rhythms. Little did I know when I fell in love with this book, this family, as a teenager that it was shaping the course of my future: the homeschooling ideal we strive for (and do not always achieve, ju ...more
Michael Fitzgerald
I kept waiting for something supernatural to occur. In the end, the big events were of the earthly kind. The book was very rewarding and it was refreshing to read about smart, largely happy people who are pretty much in control of their lives (even when bad things happen) as opposed to folks who are helpless victims of crises. The detail about mundane aspects of daily life was something that I appreciated and the writing was such that it established a close relationship with the reader, with ple ...more
Mar 21, 2015 Karima rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Product details tell us that the target audience for this book is 11-18year olds. I would think 9 to 14 would be more accurate. This book was first published in 1960 when family life was quite different than it is today. This family is too good to be true but you can't help but love them and wish you were part of their rambling, bustling household. It is told through the voice of twelve-year-old Vicky Austin who knows that she is surrounded by a loving family, full of good-will with just the rig ...more
Vicky Austin is the second oldest child of four growing up in rural New England in the middle of the 20th century. This is the story of part of her twelfth year; the part that begins with the news of a dear uncle's death, continues with the arrival of an orphaned (and rather spoiled) ten-year-old Magggy, and ends with a decision about Maggy's future home. In between all of this, various scrapes and accomplishments ensue as the family adjusts to Maggy's presence and Maggy adjusts to her new life. ...more
Jun 20, 2013 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, 2013
What a lovely book!

Without a doubt my favourite by L'Engle so far, I really enjoyed this and I love the Austins! Their family dynamic feels real, I love that they're a close-knit family and the entire story just made me feel so nostalgic. I was reminded of my own childhood on several occasions, which made me smile.

I was charmed. I have GOT to get my hands on the next two books.
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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

Austin Family (9 books)
  • The Moon by Night (Austin Family, #2)
  • The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (Austin Family, #3)
  • The Young Unicorns (Austin Family, #4)
  • A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #5)
  • The Anti-Muffins (Austin Family, #6)
  • Troubling a Star (Austin Family, #7)
  • Miracle on 10th Street and Other Christmas Writings
  • A Full House: An Austin Family Christmas (Austin Family, #9)

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