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A Ring of Endless Light

(Austin Family Chronicles #4)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  18,579 ratings  ·  808 reviews

After a tumultuous year in New York City, the Austins are spending the summer on the small island where their grandfather lives. He’s very sick, and watching his condition deteriorate as the summer passes is almost more than Vicky can bear. To complicate matters, she finds herself as the center of attention for three very different boys.

Zachary Grey, the troubled and reck

Paperback, 332 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group (first published May 1st 1980)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  18,579 ratings  ·  808 reviews

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Wendy Darling
4.5 stars Re-read for our readalong discussion on Friday 4/24!


My favorite L'Engle book ever, about the formative summer when Vicky Austin's grandfather is dying and she meets a young marine biology student who teaches her to swim with dolphins. I'm not sure any other YA author has ever come close to L'Engle's complex and intelligent story-telling with the Austin family, which is secure in its wisdom that everyday life is dramatic
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone age 13 and up
Shelves: ya
I first read this book as an early teen--I can see now, reading it as an adult, that having read this book (along with all Madeleine L'Engle's other books) at twelve and thirteen clearly had a profound impact on my world view. L'Engle's writing has a depth and profundity that draws on emotions of which most writers only attempt to scratch the surface.

I think all developing adolescents should read this book and all its accompanying ones, if only to see that there is more out there than either com
Battle is over for this book, at any rate.

Before anyone starts throwing stones or even worse missiles, I have to point out that this is not a review, but rather a response. Furthermore, I read this book at the wrong time. Which is NOT code for saying that it's an immature book you could only love if you read it as a child. But really, rather than desiring to avoid abuse, I hate to say why a book that is an abiding favourite for so many friends is one that really didn't work for me.

As a child m
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in fifth grade, and I loved it so much. I bought it earlier this spring at Borders (I think it was on sale because it’s newbery honor sticker is the wrong color), though I just picked it up.

Vicky Austin goes to her grandfather’s house on Seven Bay Island. Each day, her grandfather only seems to grow weaker from Leukemia. The book begins with the Austin’s family friend Commander Rodney’s funeral. There, she meets her older brother’s friend Adam, who she thinks she likes. She wor
Rashika (is tired)
Upon re-read: still one of the best books ever.

(mini-review as a follow up to the read along)

A Ring of Endless Light is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it many years ago and when I got the opportunity to re-read it, I was terrified. I worried that even though I had loved this book so many years ago, I wouldn’t feel the same way years later. I was wrong. I feel like I need to bang my head on a wall for ever underestimating this book but there it is. This is one of the best books I
Bodosika Bodosika
This is all about dolphins, adolescent life, death and regeneration of limbs in dolphins and the possibilities on human.
Though the narrative was okay,the character descriptions was alright and the story line is some how muddied but I will give this book 2 stars.
Ivonne Rovira
The title references a 1650 poem by Henry Vaughn, “The World,” that envisions all eternity as “a great ring of pure and endless light,” and urges humankind to choose the divine light instead of the earthly darkness. The title is totally appropriate as we see 15-year-old Vicky Austen struggle between optimism and devastating nihilism.

The Austens are spending the summer at Seven Bay Island since Mrs. Austen’s father, Reverend Eaton, is dying of leukemia. Throughout the summer, Vicky witnesses plen
Mar 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
A Ring of Endless Light takes what could be a beautiful, poignant book with the most saintly of grandfathers and a reverence for the poetic soul, dries it out, overloads it with sentiment, and then beats it over the head with understanding and well-wishing. And that's my polite impression of it.

Honestly, I don't know how anyone can like this book unless they find picture-perfect, saccharine families and neat answers appealing. Vicky is the most understanding and emotionally and psychologically a
Mar 09, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth
In my youth I was on a L'engle tear having gone through the "Time" series...however I didn't get the memo that L'engle's writing ministry developed into one catered towards guiding pre-adolescent females through their awkward years.

Needless to say, I caught on when I realized that the books really weren't speaking to me like the others were...and I quietly returned this one back to the library and saw that I was the only dude to read the book for the past decade...

A good read nonetheless!
Melissa McShane
Vicky Austin’s summer is filled with joy and heartbreak. Her family has come to the Island to stay with her grandfather, who’s dying of leukemia. She has three boys vying for her affections, each of whom has his own demons, all of whom look to Vicky for a kind of salvation. She’s trying to find her place in the world at a time when the support of her family isn’t what it used to be, not because they’ve changed, but because she has. And she is introduced to three dolphins with whom she has an unu ...more
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's been years since I read this, and although I always tell kids it's my favorite book when they ask (I've learned you HAVE to have a favorite book when you write for middle graders because they ALWAYS want to know!), part of me had wondered if I would still feel that way after a reread. The answer is: I feel it more than ever. It's the most perfect book ever written as far as I'm concerned. I finished it in tears, my soul filled.

An interesting and unexpected thing about this reread is realizi
Diana Maria
Oh! Precious book which dazzles me with joy and beauty every time I read it!

I have never imagined (certainly not after my first reading) that I would cry of joy and sorrow for the light, and the beauty and the pain of growing, of maturing, of understanding, of grasping a little of the majesty of living and acknowledging the wonderful pattern that God is so exquisitely knitting.
After my first reading I had all kind of mixed feelings I did not appreciate it too much, but now, after my fourth rea
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I had to read Meet the Austins and The Moon by Night, the first two Austin Family novels, in eighth grade. While I didn't like Meet the Austins as it read like a juvenile fiction book, I fell in love with The Moon by Night and the book's heroine, Vicky Austin. I reread the book so many times, the pages are coming out.

Surprisingly, I never picked up A Ring of Endless Light until college. My sister read it for school and told me that it was a fellow Vicky Austin novel and was surprised I had not y
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
First of all, the science in A Ring of Endless Light is WAY off - dolphins are vicious little bastards. I laughed out loud when Vicky said that you never hear about dolphins' inhumanity to dolphins. Are you kidding me? Someone spent too much time daydreaming about her Trapper Keeper.

That being said, I still love this book. Vicky is wrestling with the problem of evil, particularly in terms of death, and she's also learning about burdens and what a person should or should not ask another person to
Mireille Duval
Excerpt from my book battle review:

I’m sorry. I know a lot of people love A Ring of Endless Light. And I don’t want to spend 500 words talking about all the things I didn’t like about it. But honestly, apart from one single element (“Vicky called me and I came.”), I didn’t like anything about it. It was incredibly depressing, with an added layer of morality that I didn’t care for. And not just depressing like “being a teenager is hard”, but filled with an unrealistic amount of death and drama. I
Nicholas Kotar
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I missed this book growing up, preferring L'Engle's more adventurous fantasies. It's too bad, because I'm sure I would have loved it growing up. I picked this lovely gem of a book up in the library last year in the kids section, during a kind of "pilgrimage" to my local library, where I hadn't been in over ten years. I used to go there every week when I was a kid. I read it in one sitting.

It doesn't have the heart-stopping action of A Wrinkle in Time or the fantastic settings of A Wind in the Do
Mar 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of L'Engle and of thoughtful young-adult lit
Recommended to D by: Maria Eidietis
Shelves: ya-lit
L'Engle seems to achieve that which Stephenie Meyer is, as yet, technically unable: a respectful, plausible narration of square pegs, alienated dreamers, and teens wiser than their years finding authentic connection. L'Engle's form is by no means flawless, but Meyer and others would do well to follow her lead and learn to show their protagonists' extraordinariness, not dictate, begging us to believe. ...more
4.5 stars although note to my future self, never re-read this if you are sad because wow, this book packs a punch. I love Vicky and her family though. No one does families as well as L'Engle.

Reviewed more in depth here at the YA/MG book battle
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book ever. Or one of them, at least
So this is my favorite Madeleine L'Engle book of them all, and I like to reread it every summer. (I didn't reread in 2009, so this is the first time in two years.) It's a Newbery Honor book, which I didn't even realize until this year -- this is the first year I've ever really looked at that medal on the cover and thought about it.

Even though A Wrinkle in Time is probably the best written of her children's books, I've always liked Vicky better, and I've always found Adam to be the more crush-wor
I finished reading this one on my last night shift at work and holy hell, was that a bad choice... If you’re wondering why it was a bad choice for me to read this one at work? Well, I was feeling pretty down with all the death and with Vicky’s reaction to it all and did I mention all the death and accidents? A real bummer to go and try to smile at my patients while I wake them at 6 am for meds and blood tests.

Well, I give this one 4 stars, even if I have some serious issues with some parts of th
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More Adam please :)
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2009 rated it liked it
I've been going through a pile of books that I've been given to see if they are worth keeping. Most aren't worth commenting about...this book on the other hand left me a bit perplexed about how well I liked it.

The back of the book and the first few chapters it seemed like a realistic fiction coming of age/teen romance (yuck-in my opinion). I was irritated about the 3 boys interested in the 15 year old girl. And I felt that she had to make too many decisions about intimacy that I think girls of
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book it is amazing! i've read this book about 5 times and i'm still not sick of's about a girl named vicky who falls for a guy named adam. he doesn't really think she's all that special until he realizes she can communicate w/ dolphins! Then it becomes a battle for her heart because 3 guys are interested in her. Lessons you can learn from this book is to not take life and your friends and family for granted because no one has them forever. Also, it teaches you how to figure you ...more
Emily Allen
Apr 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: newbery, not-for-me
I had a hard time believing the characters, their actions, and conversations. Also Vicky basicly having three boyfriends at once really bugged me.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This realistic fiction book follows the life of a teenaged girl as she deals with the struggles of growing up. You would like this book if you like coming of age stories. The theme of A Ring of Endless Light is that life, though hard at times, is easier when family is there to help.
Michaela Buccola
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
As I picked up A Wrinkle in Time to read for the second time, I was reminded, when looking through Madeline L’Engle’s other titles that I had read this book too...and I loved it (maybe even more). With A Wrinkle in Time being turned into a movie I have been reminded about this beloved children’s author!
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i'm so glad i get to keep talking to Madeleine and to get to (the) work


"To live forever in
this body would take away much of the joy of living, even if one didn't age but
stayed young and vigorous... Simply the awareness that our mortal lives had a beginning and will have an end enhances the quality of our living. Perhaps it's even more intense when we
know that the termination of the body is near, but it shouldn't be."

"The obligations of normal human kindness-
chesed, a
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. Has been since I was a child and continues to be so today. It's beautifully written, has some strong messages, and is very relatable, especially for teenage girls (of which I was one when I first started loving the book). It's actually a part of a series, but is easily a stand alone book. If you want more background on the characters, it might be better to start with the first book though.

Vicky Austin and her family have come to their grandpa's home on an island
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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

Other books in the series

Austin Family Chronicles (5 books)
  • Meet the Austins (Austin Family Chronicles, #1)
  • The Moon by Night (Austin Family Chronicles, #2)
  • The Young Unicorns (Austin Family Chronicles, #3)
  • Troubling a Star (Austin Family Chronicles, #5)

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