August 01, 2012

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle

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 to spend the summer with him.  He is dying of leukemia and while it's a tough time for all, they know where it is supposed to be.  While on the island, a friend of theirs, Captain Rodney, suffers a heart attack while rescuing a boy from a capsized sailboat.  His death, combined with their grandfather's deterioration sets a pall on the whole island.   When Vicky learns that the teenage boy rescued is a friend from the past, that just adds to the confusion.  And if she didn't have enough with that, Captain Rodney's son, Leo is interested in her as well.  The third boy she encounters, Adam, likes her for the help she provides with his dolphin project, but keeps her at an arm's length, unwilling to trust her.  All of these feelings are bubbling inside  Vicky and there just doesn't seem to be a fair outlet.

Vicky is a very relatable protagonist.  She has her normal problems, and while I didn't have three boys ever after me at once, I feel like I could be her sometimes.  She's more of a dreamer than a scientist, and loves to write.  For the three boys, I didn't really care much for Leo, he didn't add anything.  Zach made a good source for problems throughout the book.  And Adam, Adam is a good guy, and I've read some of the other books with him in it so I was already a little attached to him.  He's my favorite out of the three anyway.  I like Vicky's parents too; they are calm and insightful and add a lot to the story.

When we get right down to it this book has a lot of romance in it as Vicky shares time with the three boys.  But there is nothing inappropriate, and Vicky is strong enough to set her limits with all of them.  The real theme of this book is sorrow and death, and learning to accept the inevitability's of life.  I really like the message carried throughout and even though there is an undertone of religion in the book, it is done very well and doesn't seem preachy in the least.  I also like the incorporation of poetry and think that L'Engle always makes good choices in the verses she includes in her books.  I also like the sub-plot with the dolphins and Vicki's interactions with them.  It was an interesting concept and one that was completely believable to me.

Definitely one of my favorite books. I would always recommend it, and many other works by L'Engle.

A Ring of Endless Light
Copyright 1980
324 pages

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