There are two fundamental responses to change. The first, and perhaps the easiest, is to be annoyed. After all, changes (big or small) disrupt our daily routine. And when our circumstances change, we have to change as well. The second option is to accept change with grace. When I think about the greatest changes in my life, I cannot imagine myself without them. Where would I be if I had never moved to different countries several times?
Meet the Austins, by Madeleine L’Engle, tells the story of the Austin family. A large, happy, noisy bunch, they were perfectly content with their way of life. But when their honorary uncle Hal and his copilot friend die in a plane crash, the family’s life changes drastically. The daughter of Uncle Hal’s friend, Maggy, comes to stay with the Austins. Maggy is loud, spoiled, and generally unpleasant. Soon the whole household is in uproar. Will life ever get back to normal?
Rob Austin is one of my favorite characters in Meet the Austins. The youngest of the family, Rob never fails to make me laugh. Rob is constantly saying hilarious things without noticing, and he is often confused when people around him erupt into laughter when he is perfectly serious. But the funniest things to read are his prayers. One night, he even asks God to bless Santa Claus! In fact, Rob’s very presence adds something a bit lighthearted, especially when things get somber. And even though his life is changing in ways he doesn’t always understand, Rob manages to stay cheerful and optimistic.
Vicky Austin is the main character in this book. After Maggy comes to stay and Uncle Hal dies, Vicky begins to reflect deeply. After thinking about life and death, she complains to her mother that she doesn’t understand it. Her mother wisely replies that all we really know about life is that it is a beautiful gift. And while Vicky’s world changes around her, she wishes desperately for time to stop, to slow down, to let her breathe. But after everyone settles down, she realizes that without the great changes in her life, she wouldn’t be who she is.
Meet the Austins is a funny, thoughtful story. In it, Vicky realizes that her actions make a difference and can change the lives of others drastically. Most of all, it tells the story of how change can go from being a nuisance to a blessing.
Middle-grade fiction, ages 12–14.
You can buy this book here.