June 12, 2012

The Moon By Night by Madeline L'Engle

I think it's very hard to find a book by L'Engle that is bad. And this book just furthers that point along, it is very very good for being a young adult novel. There's just so much information and wisdom packed into the series that it's hard not to like them.

The Moon By Night is the 2nd book in the "Meet the Austins" series. I've read all the books out of order and as stand-alones (A Ring of Endless Light was perhaps my most favored book through my teenage years) and it's never really bothered me or kept me from enjoying the book. That being said, I always do recommend reading books in order. This particular book has the main character Vicky as a fourteen year old going on a camping trip with her family. Along the way she meets the exciting and terrible Zachary Gray who dazzles her and frightens her all at the same time. Her family doesn't approve of the friendship, but quietly lets her sort things out as she is trying to grow and figure herself out at this point in her life. And the camping with her family too brings them a sort of closeness and respect that makes her appreciate them more.

Vicky is a great character. And she's so great because she's real and she reminds me of myself at that age. It's hard not to feel special in a family as unique as hers, and even more difficult is learning to appreciate yourself for who you are. She also has a natural appreciation and innocence about her that is refreshing. So even though her teenage years are happening during the 60's in this book, she feels like she could be your best friend in any time period. Zachary I'm not as fond of, but I don't think he's supposed to be a likable character. Girls are attracted to the troublesome dark type of guys and he fits the bill for that. I've been guilty of falling for a few guys like that myself until I realized I much prefer a sunny personality. Her family seems close-knit and while there is one sexist comment in regards to her father preferring that women don't wear pants, I excused it as the time period of the book and tried not to dwell on it too much.

The plot is simplistic. It's a camping trip with a family and a somewhat love story. But what I think really makes this book stand out is that the theme of growing up is predominant in it. It could allow someone the same age as Vicky to really relate with her and get inside her head. And that's what makes it a valuable read. The writing is good, although there is quite a bit of religion incorporated into the book and I got tired of it in parts, but there was also a lot of poetry thrown in and I did appreciate that. I'm not much of a poetry person but L'Engle always seems to find poems that fit perfectly into her books.

A very good read, as is the rest of the series. I highly recommend all of the books for Meet the Austins and some of L'Engle's other works as well.

The Moon By Night
Copyright 1963
255 pages

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