Troubling a Star (Austin Family Series #5)

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The Austins have settled back into their beloved home in the country after more than a year away. Though they had all missed the predictability and security of life in Thornhill, Vicky Austin is discovering that slipping back into her old life isn’t easy. She’s been changed by life in New York City and her travels around the country while her old friends seem to have stayed the same. So Vicky finds herself spending time with a new friend, Serena Eddington—the great-aunt of a boy...

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Troubling a Star: The Austin Family Chronicles, Book 5

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The Austins have settled back into their beloved home in the country after more than a year away. Though they had all missed the predictability and security of life in Thornhill, Vicky Austin is discovering that slipping back into her old life isn’t easy. She’s been changed by life in New York City and her travels around the country while her old friends seem to have stayed the same. So Vicky finds herself spending time with a new friend, Serena Eddington—the great-aunt of a boy Vicky met over the summer.
     Aunt Serena gives Vicky an incredible birthday gift—a month-long trip to Antarctica. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. But Vicky is nervous. She’s never been away from her family before. Once she sets off though, she finds that’s the least of her worries. She receives threatening letters. She’s surrounded by suspicious characters. Vicky no longer knows who to trust. And she may not make it home alive.

As she tries to stay alive after being left on an iceberg in the Antarctic, sixteen-year-old Vicky recalls the series of events that brought her to the bottom of the world and involved her in a dangerous mystery.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[A] sensitive, well-written story of a young girl who unwittingly becomes involved in high-risk political and ecological intrigue, set against the starkly beautiful background of Antarctica. This is a story that is perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of everything: intrigue, romance, coming-of-age angst. . . . L’Engle is a master.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Vicky Austin, the poetry-writing heroine of four of the Newbery Medalist's previous novels, finds herself caught in a web of political intrigue in this exotic, multilayered thriller. The high school junior is overjoyed when given the opportunity to travel to Antarctica to visit good friend Adam Eddington (introduced in A Ring of Endless Light ), a college student majoring in marine biology. Her enthusiasm wanes only slightly after she receives mysterious notes warning her to stay home. When she embarks on her journey, danger indeed seems to lurk around every corner--in one tense scene atop a pyramid, she is nearly pushed to her death. Her traveling companions, a colorful lot, include Otto, prince of Zlatovica; Esteban, a tour guide; and various eccentrics; as the voyage continues, their odd behavior intensifies Vicky's suspicions. Interspersed with flash-forwards of Vicky stranded on an iceberg, the intricate story line mounts in suspense. L'Engle, writing for a sophisticated audience, contrasts the purity of a frozen paradise with the burning greed of humans, and her stunning descriptions of the Antarctic waters and their inhabitants transmit a strong ecological message. Good overcomes evil in the end, but enough loose threads remain to suggest further adventures for the intrepid Vicky and Adam. Ages 12-up. 50,000 first printing. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
L'Engle fans are always waiting for her most recent release. In her latest book, she returns to tell another story about Vicky Austin, a heroine who made clear her respect and admiration for older people in Ring of Endless Light. Now her affinity for older people leads her to Aunt Serena, a ninety-year-old woman who's as wealthy as she is wise. Vicky travels to Antarctica on a ship filled with people of advanced age. They are there to comfort, console, and protect her through the danger and intrigue of her journey. As in all her books, L'Engle leaves her readers caring deeply about new characters and wondering about the meaning of the universe.
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
This is a marvelous young adult story of mystery, social/political issues, and an adolescent crush. Vicky Austin has returned to rural Connecticut feeling totally out of place. She develops a crush on her brother's best friend, Adam, who, in turn, introduces Vicky to elderly Aunt Serena. Vicky and Aunt Serena delight in each other's company. For her 16th birthday, Aunt Serena surprises everyone by giving Vicky a two-week trip to Antarctica, where coincidentally Adam is working. As the tale spins, Vicky finds herself in confusing circumstances-her relationship with Adam, nuclear waste disposal, drug trafficking, international spies, and the fragile environment of Antarctica. 1995 (orig.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-In this fourth book about the Austin family, Vicky is almost 16. Adam Eddington, her budding love interest in A Ring of Endless Light (Dell, 1981), is headed for a marine-biology internship in Antarctica. His wealthy great-aunt is so taken with Vicky that she gives the young woman a trip there for her birthday. However, politics and international wheeling and dealing quickly turn the opportunity of a lifetime into a fight for survival as Vicky becomes a pawn in the struggles that surround her. Readers know that trouble is in store from the onset, as each chapter begins with an italicized paragraph of her terrified musings while she waits to be rescued from the iceberg upon which she is stranded. Most of the intrigue is centered on the tiny South American country of Vespugia, which will be familiar to readers of A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Farrar, 1978). There is no fantasy here, though-only human foibles such as greed and waste as the environmentalists who want to protect this continent and the various interest groups, who prefer to use it for personal gain, squabble. The narrative is interspersed with the poetry Vicky often uses to express her feelings, and with lively descriptions of the wildlife and habitats of Antarctica. The mystery itself is fairly transparent, even predictable. Those YAs who are accustomed to more contemporary realism in their novels may find the Austins, with their wholesome, intellectual lifestyle and their thoughtful, well-connected friends, as close to fantasy as one can get while remaining on Earth. Hopefully, though, they'll be able to suspend their disbelief long enough to enjoy Vicky's adventure.- Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312379346
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Series: Austin Family Series, #5
  • Edition description: STRIPPABLE
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 575,271
  • Age range: 11 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was the Newbery Medal-winning author of more than 60 books, including the much-loved A Wrinkle in Time. Born in 1918, L’Engle grew up in New York City, Switzerland, South Carolina and Massachusetts.  Her father was a reporter and her mother had studied to be a pianist, and their house was always full of musicians and theater people. L’Engle graduated cum laude from Smith College, then returned to New York to work in the theater. While touring with a play, she wrote her first book, The Small Rain, originally published in 1945. She met her future husband, Hugh Franklin, when they both appeared in The Cherry Orchard.
Upon becoming Mrs. Franklin, L’Engle gave up the stage in favor of the typewriter. In the years her three children were growing up, she wrote four more novels. Hugh Franklin temporarily retired from the theater, and the family moved to western Connecticut and for ten years ran a general store. Her book Meet the Austins, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book of 1960, was based on this experience.
Her science fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time was awarded the 1963 Newbery Medal. Two companion novels, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (a Newbery Honor book), complete what has come to be known as The Time Trilogy, a series that continues to grow in popularity with a new generation of readers. Her 1980 book A Ring of Endless Light won the Newbery Honor. L’Engle passed away in 2007 in Litchfield, Connecticut.


Madeleine L'Engle Camp was born in New York City and educated in boarding schools in Switzerland and across the United States. A shy, withdrawn child with few friends, she retreated into writing at an early age. She attended Smith College, graduating summa cum laude in 1941. After college, she worked in the New York theatre, where she met her future husband, Hugh Franklin. (Later she would say that they "met in The Cherry Orchard and married during The Joyous Season.") Her first book, The Small Rain (1945), was completed while she was still working as an actress.

After the birth of their first child, Madeleine and her husband moved to rural Connecticut to run a small general store; but in 1959, they returned to New York City with their three children so Hugh Franklin could resume his acting career (For many years, he played Dr. Charles Tyler on the popular television soap opera All My Children.) Although Madeleine wrote steadily during this period, few of her books were published. Then, in 1960, she released her first children's story, Meet the Austins. An affectionate portrait of a close-knit family, the book was named an ALA Notable Children's Book of the year and spawned several bestselling sequels.

Completed in 1960, L'Engle's science fiction YA classic A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by more than two dozen publishers before Farrar, Straus and Giroux finally released it in 1962. Elegant, imaginative, and filled with complex moral themes, the acclaimed Newbery Medal winner tells the story of Meg Murry, a young girl who travels through time with her psychically gifted younger brother to rescue their scientist father from a planet controlled by an evil entity known as the Dark Thing. Throughout her career, L'Engle would return to the Murry family three more times, in A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), and Many Waters (1986). The Time Quartet, as these four books have come to be called, weaves together elements of theology and quantum physics often assumed to be far too esoteric for children to understand. Yet, it became a true classic of juvenalia. L'Engle explained once, "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."

In addition to her YA novels, the prolific writer also penned adult fiction, poems, plays, memoirs, and religious meditations. She served as the longtime librarian and writer-in-residence for the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Madeleine L'Engle passed away at a nursing home in Connecticut in 2007.

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    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      September 6, 2007
    2. Place of Death:
      Litchfield, CT
    1. Education:
      Smith College, 1941

Read an Excerpt

Troubling a Star

The Austin Family Chronicles, Book 5
By Madeleine L'Engle

Square Fish

Copyright © 2008 Madeleine L'Engle
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312379346

Troubling a Star
OneThe iceberg was not a large one, but it was big enough so that the seal and I were not crowded, and I was grateful for that. The seal was asleep after its night of hunting. It was a crab-eater seal, and crab eaters live on krill, not crab, and as far as I know do not eat people. I willed it to stay asleep and not even notice that Vicky Austin was sharing its iceberg, which was floating majestically in the dark and icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean, or that my heart was beating wildly with terror.The sun was out and the sky was high and blue and cloudless. I was shivering uncontrollably despite my long winter underwear, turtleneck, heavy sweater, bright red parka. I had on lined blue jeans with yellow waterproof pants over them. I wore three pairs of socks under green rubber boots. I was highly visible--if there had been anyone around to see me.I tried to control my panic, to assess my situation. Several things could happen. I could be missed and someone would come for me. Thatwas my brightest hope. But I had to face the possibility that nobody would find me in this vast space, and that I would ultimately freeze to death. Or the iceberg might overturn, as they sometimes do, and I would be plunged into the water and die quickly from hypothermia.I looked around me in all directions. There were dozens more icebergs, many with seals on them. There was a hunched shadow of land on one horizon. No sign of human life. In the water I saw three penguins flashing by, heading for land. Penguins fly in the water, rather than in air. I watched them until I could not see them any longer.They say that drowning people relive their entire lives in a flash. I'd been on the iceberg only a few minutes, long enough to be terrified, but not long enough to despair. That would come later. 
How did I get to be on an iceberg in Antarctic waters in January, which is summer--but even summer is cold in that land of unremitting ice. It went back a few months to those last weeks of summer before school starts. I was still fifteen then, feeling lost and alien, though I had yet to learn what being truly alien feels like.My family and I had come home to our little village of Thornhill, after a year away. My adored grandfather was dead. The only really good thing in my life was that I'd see Adam soon, Adam Eddington, who'd had a summer job in the marine biology lab with my older brother, John. Adam and I had become friends during the summer, and if the friendship meant more to me than it did to Adam, well, I would just have to live with that. I knew that some of the time I was only John's kid sister in Adam's eyes, but there were other times when it was a lot more than that.In another week John would be going back to M.I.T., and Suzy and I would be in the regional high school, Suzy as an eighth-grader, and I'd be starting my junior year. Our little brother, Rob, would still be in the village school.It all should have been normal and okay, but I'd been away for a year and I'd grown and changed, and even before school started I felt I no longer belonged. So when Adam called from New York to say he was spending a weekend with his Aunt Serena in nearby Clovenford before flying to California to college and would it be all right if he came for dinner on Friday, it was as though the sun had suddenly come out after a foggy day. He arrived around six-thirty, driving up in an old and beautiful Bentley, much to John's envy. I was sorting laundry, one of my least favorite chores, but I kept on folding clothes, rather than rushing out to join John and Rob, who were admiring the great old car.The evening was warm, and I had on my best shorts and a clean blouse which I'd actually ironed. I'd have dressed up more than that, but I knew Suzy would be at me. My little sister and I do not always see eye to eye.When Adam finally came in, he kissed me, or would have, if Mr. Rochester, our old Great Dane, hadn't been all over him, trying to jump up on him, wagging his tail, greeting Adam with all kinds of special affection. Adam managed to shove him down in a gentle sort of way, and kissed me again. But then he kissed my mother and Suzy, too. Then everybody talked at once, more or less, until my father came home from admitting a patient to the hospital. And finally we were all sitting around the dinner table, and that felt right and good.When everybody had been served, Adam said, "Hey, I have terrific news."We all looked at him."I've been given a grant to go to Antarctica next semester.""You mean now?" Suzy asked."No, not this semester. Next semester, in December."Our father raised his eyebrows questioningly. "Why Antarctica?"Adam grinned at him. "Well, Dr. Austin, I am a marine-biology major, and it's a major opportunity. I'll be working at LeNoir, one of the small U.S. stations.""I thought you were into starfish and dolphins," Suzy said."There'll probably be a few of those at Eddington Point, where the station is, but mostly I'll be working with penguins."Mother asked, "Eddington Point?"Adam grinned again. "Actually, it's named after my uncle. He's probably the reason I'm a marine biologist. He made a couple of expeditions to Antarctica, and he died in an accident while he was out there.""Are you named after him?" Suzy asked."Yup. Actually, I'm Adam III. My great-uncle, the banker, was Adam I. Adam Eddington, the marine biologist, was Adam II. And I'm Adam III. Listen, Vicky, John's coming over in the morning, but how about if I pick you up in the afternoon, maybe a little before four, and take you to Clovenford to meet my Aunt Serena? I really think you two would like each other.""Sure," I said. "I'd love to." I'd love to do anything with Adam.My father smiled at him. "Your Aunt Serena is one of my patients, and one of my favorite ones. I agree with you, Vicky will enjoy her.""And she'll enjoy Vicky.""They'll be good for each other," my father said.But if I'd never met Aunt Serena--if I'd never read Adam II's diary and found his letters--Wait, Vicky. It's no good hindsighting. 
After dinner Adam said he had to get on back to Clovenford to Aunt Serena, who was very old and retired early, and John and I went out to the garage to wave him off, with Mr. Rochester at our heels. Waving people off is a sort of tradition in our family.Before he got into the Bentley, Adam put his arm about my waist. "I know you miss your grandfather, Vicky.""Yeah. A lot.""He was a special person. One reason I want you to meet Aunt Serena is that she reminds me of your grandfather. She's an amazing old lady.""I look forward to it." I thought he might kiss me goodbye, but John was right there."Good night, you two," Adam said. "It's been a great evening.""See you tomorrow," I said, trying to sound casual."Sure. See you."I watched after his car as he drove down the road, and John went around the corner of the house to get Rochester. I started to go after them, but stopped and looked up at thesky, crisp and clear and full of stars. I was home, in the place where I had been born and grown up, and I responded to the beauty of the night sky and the great old maples and oaks, and I was lonely, a kind of loneliness that hurt like a toothache.I shook myself and headed back to the house. I was going to see Adam the next day. Wasn't that enough? 
He came for me a little before three-thirty, and I was ready and waiting. I'd put on a flowered cotton skirt and another clean cotton blouse, much as I hate ironing.Mother asked Adam if he'd like to stay for dinner again when he brought me home, and he said he'd enjoy that. He and John had had lunch with Aunt Serena, and she was usually tired by evening and wanted to eat quietly and go to bed. He'd have to double-check with the chauffeur that it was all right to use the car.I'd forgotten that a world with people who had chauffeurs still existed. But there's a section of Clovenford that's old and rich, with great nineteenth-century mansions and people who actually have servant problems. Thornhill is older than Clovenford. Our house was built in the middle of the eighteenth century, and it sags comfortably, all the boards slanting toward the big central chimney. One problem my mother's never had is a servant problem."See you later, then," Mother said, and Adam and I went out through the kitchen door and the garage."You'll like my Aunt Serena--great-aunt--" Adam said. "She's ninety and occasionally gets a little absentminded, but mostly she's terrific and interested in all kinds of things."It was a gorgeous, pre-autumn day. Everything was still green, a bit dusty, because we needed rain. The roadsides were yellow with goldenrod, and occasionally a maple would be tipped with red or orange. We drove downhill, across the river, and then back up into the hills again. We passed the road to the hospital where my father's on the staff, and turned onto a wide street with houses set far back, and green lawns carefully manicured."Elm Street," Adam said. "No elms, of course.""Lots of maples, though," I said. "These are beautiful ones. Suzy's passionate about the way we aren't taking care of the trees on our planet--you know Suzy.""She's right," Adam said, "though we didn't exactly cause Dutch elm disease. Here we are."Adam's Aunt Serena's house was large, white with black shutters, and a widow's walk. Adam stopped the car in front of a picket fence with a wrought-iron gate. The gateposts were topped with carved pineapples. "The sign of hospitality," Adam said, "though I'm not sure where that symbol comes from. You'll find Aunt Serena's very hospitable. You okay?""Sure." But I was a little nervous, a little self-conscious. I wasn't used to people who lived in enormous houses and had chauffeurs.Adam opened the gate and we walked up a path of pale pink brick bordered with hydrangea and rhododendron bushes. The hydrangeas were in full bloom, a wonderful, deep purple.A maid in a grey uniform and a white apron opened the door, and Adam flung his arms around her and gave her a big kiss on the cheek."Mr. Adam! Mr. Adam! You'll never--" She smoothed her hair, and straightened her small white cap, scolding and giggling all at the same time. I looked around the elegant front hall. There was an enormous mirror in an ornate gilt frame, and under it was a marble-topped table. On a silver tray were several letters. I glanced at myself in the mirror and thought I looked okay. I was nearly sixteen. I did not look like a child.Adam introduced us. "Vicky, this is Stassy, who's known me since I was in diapers. Stassy, this is my friend, Vicky. John's sister."At least he didn't say John's little sister.Stassy welcomed me with a wonderful smile which lit up her whole face, and led us past a large living room to our right, a formal dining room to our left, on past a library full of what looked like thousands of books, and then to a sitting room where an old woman looked up from a wing chair by a bright fire."Mr. Adam has brought Miss Vicky, Madam," she announced with what sounded like real pleasure.I stepped forward and took the old lady's hand. It was small and warm and dry. She had curly white hair cut as short as mine, and a finely wrinkled face and brown eyes that looked golden in the firelight. The room was a little warm, but I know very old people tend to feel chilly."You're good to come," she said. "And now we'll have tea, please, Stassy. Anastasia," she explained to me, "but Stassy is easier.""Tea would be lovely," I said, sitting in the chair Adam hadpulled out for me, across from his great-aunt, with a low table between us.Stassy wheeled the tea in on a mahogany tea table, with a beautiful silver service, but also a big glass pitcher of iced tea. The sandwiches were little rounds, each with one slice of tomato. There was a big plate of cookies still warm from the oven.Adam's great-aunt asked me to pour. "And will you be kind enough to call me Aunt Serena? That would please me.""I'd love to." She made me feel completely comfortable, and glad to be calling her Aunt Serena instead of Mrs. Eddington. I poured tea, and Adam passed it to her, and then said he'd rather have iced tea.I poured tall glasses for both of us. While I was sipping, she looked directly at me, saying, "So you spent last winter in New York.""Yes. My dad had a research grant for a year."She nodded. "I'm one of his many patients who are delighted to have him back. The doctor who took his practice was eminently qualified, but he didn't have your father's warmth or authority. He heals my spirit as well as my body. There's not much he can do about my arthritic knees, but he can keep my zest for life from flagging. So does my great-nephew, here. I'll miss him.""So will I," I said."But he has given me the best gift he possibly could--his grant to go to Antarctica--and on his own merits, too. Despite the point which is named for him, Eddington Point, notmany people remember my son, who spent many months in Antarctica and died there."Her eyes were full of pain, so I just murmured that I was sorry, and I, too, was glad Adam had the grant. That was politeness on my part. I didn't want Adam that far away. On the other hand, Berkeley might just as well be as far as Antarctica, for all the chance I'd have of seeing Adam there.She looked at me and smiled. "Coming back to little Thornhill can't be an easy transition. You're still in high school?""Yes. Next week I start eleventh grade. One more year after this, and then college.""Are you going to miss New York?""Not the city. But I'll miss some of the people I met there. Talking about ideas, big things."She held out her cup for a refill. "The art of conversation is becoming a lost one. I'm happy that my great-nephew still enjoys batting ideas back and forth. So does your brother. I can see that you come from a family that is not afraid of discussion."I laughed. "Discussion. And sometimes dissension." I was amazed at how totally at ease I was with this great-aunt of Adam's, in this elegant, gracious room. There was just enough furniture to be comfortable, but no clutter. Over the mantelpiece was a portrait of a young woman. I knew it was Aunt Serena from the eyes, which were the same firelit gold."You have beautiful eyes, Aunt Serena," I said.She laughed and clapped her hands. "Miracles of modern technology! In the old days I'd have had the blind white eyes of cataracts or, at best, those Coke-bottle glasses. I still wake up every morning and rejoice at seeing through my lens implants.Now, pour yourself and Adam another glass of tea, my dear, and"--she looked at Adam--"Owain will drive Vicky home. He's Stassy's husband, and I don't know what I'd do without them and Cook."Adam said, "If it's all right with you, Aunt Serena, I'll drive Vicky home. Mrs. Austin was nice enough to ask me to stay for dinner again, and she's a fabulous cook--good enough to make Cook sit up and take notice."If I'd forgotten there was still a world where people had chauffeurs, I'd equally forgotten a world where people had cooks."Of course it's all right with me," Aunt Serena said, and then, as though she'd read my mind, "I suspect your mother most graciously does all kinds of things I didn't have to do. Life was gentler.""Things change," Adam said. "Entropy."To my surprise, Aunt Serena frowned. "I really don't approve of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I refuse to believe that the entire universe is on a downhill skid. The theory may be more sophisticated than that of the nineteenth-century positivists who believed that as knowledge increased, each civilization would rise higher than the one before, but it's equally nearsighted. I'll have half a cup of tea, if you'll be so kind."Well! Aunt Serena was certainly not boring! This was the kind of conversation Adam and John throve on, the kind of conversation I'd told Aunt Serena I'd miss in Thornhill. But maybe I was being unfair.She finished her tea quickly, and rang a tiny silver bell which was on the tea tray. In a moment Stassy appeared."Adam and Vicky are leaving now, Stassy dear. And Vicky might like to take the cookies home.""I have a younger brother and sister who'd love them." I rose.Stassy said, "Owain drove the car around to the back.""Splendid. They can leave through the kitchen and Vicky can meet Owain and Cook. You will come again, my dear? Adam must leave tomorrow, and though he's promised me another weekend before he goes to Antarctica, I will be lonely without him, so it would be most kind if you would come to tea.""I'd love to," I said. "School starts next week for me, too, and I'll have to see what my schedule is.""Perhaps you could get off your school bus in Clovenford?""Well, yes--""And Owain will drive you home."Adam said, "Take Aunt Serena for a walk when you come, Vic. She's supposed to exercise more than she does."She looked up at me. "Your father would appreciate that. My legs do not do well once autumn and winter damp set in."Stassy led Adam and me farther back into the house, through a large sun porch that was part greenhouse full of flowers and plants, then through a beautiful kitchen with a restaurant stove, the kind Mother's always wanted. Copper pots hung from the ceiling. A tall, thin man who had a fringe of brown hair around his head and who looked like a monk was standing at the stove. He turned and smiled as we came in.Adam said, "Vicky, this is Cook, and he keeps me out oftrouble. If I'm about to do something and think Cook wouldn't approve, I usually don't do it.""My name is Adam Cook." The tall man shook my hand with a firm, friendly grip. "There are already more than enough Adams around here, so everyone uses my last name, and I hope you will, too. Quite appropriate, isn't it?" He moved from the stove and handed me a large red tin of cookies. "I kept a few out for Madam. It's not easy to whet her appetite. Do come again, Miss Vicky." He had a crisp British accent."Oh, I will," I promised.Stassy opened a door that led through a small pantry and to a covered drive between house and garage, where the car was waiting. Stassy introduced me to Owain, who looked as Welsh as his name, with black hair, blue eyes, fair skin. Like Stassy and Cook, he seemed delighted to see me and urged me to come back. "Madam's outlived her family and friends," he told me, "and none of the relatives think they live near enough to come by, saving Mr. Adam and his family. They come when they can. And your father--he drops in more often than he's needed as a doctor. It's done her a world of good, having Mr. Adam here for a few days. I'll look forward to seeing you again, Miss Vicky."Miss Vicky. Aunt Serena lived in a world I didn't know much about, a world of formality and privilege. I felt clumsy, but Adam seemed to take it all for granted.Owain said, "The key's in the car, Mr. Adam.""Thanks, Owain. I'll be careful."We backed onto the drive that curved around the house. "Mr. Adam. Miss Vicky," I said.Adam shrugged. "I was Master Adam until a few years ago, and I really had to do some major insisting before they were willing to let me grow up."The trees were a dark green against a sky that was already turning pink. The days were growing shorter. I glanced at Adam. "Thanks for taking me to meet Aunt Serena.""I knew you'd like each other," Adam said. "She's very special, and I don't introduce just anybody to her."I felt my cheeks go warm. "She does remind me of Grandfather.""Same quality," Adam said. "I'd think it was a generational thing, except that I've known other old people who've closed down and are cranky and do nothing but tell the same old stories and are totally boring.""Boring she's not. Adam, what happened to her son, Adam?""Adam II, my uncle? I told you. An accident in Antarctica.""What kind of an accident?""He was out in his Zodiac--""His what?""Zodiac. They're inflatable, motorized rubber boats, like the ones you see in nature programs on TV. The assumption about Adam II was that the motor must have given out and he had no way to get back to land. There are heavy tides and undertows and he may have been swept out to sea."The way he told me made me want to ask further questions, but it also made me know I shouldn't. So I didn't say anything.I looked at him questioningly, but he was staring ahead at the road.We were silent for a mile or so, and then he asked, "What did you think of Cook?""I liked him. He looks kind of like a monk."Adam burst into laughter. "Vicky, you're amazing!""Hunh?" I asked inelegantly."Cook was a monk for about ten years.""Oh, my! Why did he stop?""He had to leave the monastery to take care of his brother, who was at the point of death. Cook and his brother are twins, born in the Falklands. Seth, Cook's brother, is a naturalist--he's still in Port Stanley."The Falklands. I knew they were British islands, which explained Cook's accent, and that they were somewhere near the bottom of South America, and that there'd been some kind of war about them, but that's about all I knew.Adam went on, "Seth accidentally antagonized a fur seal, and they can be quite vicious when they're angry. It nearly killed him, and Cook went out to nurse him. He told me that when he came back to the U.S. he felt he no longer had a vocation to the monastic life. He's a great guy. Listen, I really feel good knowing you'll go over to Clovenford. I worry about Aunt Serena. I'll miss you when I go back to Berkeley. I'm a lousy letter writer, but I'll try to keep in touch. Getting this grant for the internship in Antarctica was beyond my wildest hopes, but it means I'll be away over Christmas.""Thanksgiving?" I asked."I'll try to come home. I did promise Aunt Serena anotherweekend, and my parents are going to want to see something of me.""Aunt Serena seems excited--about Antarctica.""I think she sees it as a kind of completion, that I'm going to finish Adam II's journey." He pulled up by the garage, but didn't block Daddy's way. That was thoughtful of him. "Aunt Serena'll probably talk to you about Adam II as she gets to know you better. And what she doesn't tell you, you can ask Cook--that is, if you're interested."Of course I was interested. Fascinated.TROUBLING A STAR. Copyright © 1994 by Crosswicks, Ltd.


Excerpted from Troubling a Star by Madeleine L'Engle Copyright © 2008 by Madeleine L'Engle. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008


    I love this book so much, I couldn't put it down enough to clean the house!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2005


    This book is tense, but lighthearted. I love a good contrast.It's got some wittiness about it,too. And I'm lovin' the Shakespeare! It's the perfect touch to this - multi-layered mystery.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    great book!!!

    omg i absolutely LOVE this book!!! thrilling, capturing, and intriguing!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    This book is wonderful

    I LOOOOOVE this book and I never rate a book 5 stars except this one and A Ring of Endless Light. You MUST read this book! I never new what would happen next.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2001

    Highly recomended

    This was the best book I ever read.I could not put it down.The plot was wonderful and exciting and I love tenagee romances.I could never guess what was going to happen next.It was done it great detial like all L'Engle's books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2001

    Prrobaly the Best Book That I have Ever Red

    I think that the author is probaley the best there really is. Her stories are exciting and fun too read. I was able to jumb intot he sotry and really get into it just after a few cpages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2000

    *My favorite book ever*

    This is one of the best books iv'e ever read. I couldn't put it down. L'engel really brings you into the book. You fell as if you were in it. After reading this book I now wan't to take a trip to Antarctica. Vicky is a really good charecter and alot of teenagers could relate to the emotional problems she faces in the book. I'm so glade that Vicky and Adam were a couple in the book they are so cute together. I hope for more of them and there relationship in the future. I think that everyone shuold read this book especially if you like romance and adventure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Brilliant YA lit.


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2006

    I am an 8th grader who has read a lot

    This was a great twist between love and a mystrey you had to discover. The end was really shocking, but i recomend this book to anyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2005

    The best!

    although it started off a little boring, this is an excellent book filled with mystery. about 200 pages

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2004

    Awesome Book!

    This book was a good conclusion to the Austin Books I've read all of them except for one, and I thoguth this one was very good. It is about a girl, Vicky Austin, who goes to Antarctica, and meets some pretty interesting people. I won't say much so you can be surprised! But I must say, it was very good!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2003


    Hi! I'm pretty young and I love to read. Especially in the summer when I can spend hours upon hours indulged in a book. It helps me to abe stress free and not a worry wart. I thought this book was ok. I myself think Madeleine L'Engle's books are too drawn out and they don't get to the exciting part of the story very quickly. Of course you older people probably think I will like it when I'm older and that I'm to young to like detailed books right now. But WAKE UP!!! I'm not. I don't particularly like this book. I just gave it an ok rating to make the author feel good about herself if she ever went to see a review on her book. Thankyou, ~YHS~

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2002

    Enthralling, Very Good

    Troubling a Star is not my favorite L'Engle book, but I certainly recommend it. The story opens with a lot of information about Vicky, our heroine, and her life right away, and unless you take it slowly, it can be a little confusing. I advise anyone who reads it to read Meet the Austins, The Moon By Night, and A Ring of Endless Light first to get a feel for the Austins and the type of person Vicky is. You will enjoy Troubling a Star twice as much. Vicky Austin has had a busy past year, she has spent a year in New York City where her father practiced medicine, and her summer was spent "on the Island" off the coast of Conneticut, caring for her grandfather, who has just recently died of cancer. Back home in rural Conneticut, she feels awkward and out of place, that is, until she meets her friend Adam's great-aunt Serena. Vicky feels greatly for Adam, he is probably her dearest friend, (and sometimes more) but he is off to college in California, and then to Antarctica, Eddington Point, as a marine biologist. Aunt Serena takes Vicky under her wing, therefore, and becomes her special confidant. Realizing what a special person Vicky is, and the extrodinary bond she shares with Adam, Aunt Serena presents Vicky with a trip to Antartica for her sixteenth birthday. And so our adventure begins... This is a book for people who aren't afraid to pull out the dictionary and look up a word they don't understand (in this book you will find a few)to discuss the deeper things of life, or to put to words or paper what they feel. A beautiful coming-of-age story, recommended to all girls age 15 and up.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2000

    Troubling a Star

    I give this book three stars because it is confusing, has a depressing twist, and has to much activity to follow and understand. I recommend this book for ages 12 and up who like adventure,a little romance, and are familiar with world conflicts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2000

    Like feeling yourself growing up

    As always, Madeleine L'Engle manages to appeal to audiences of all ages. I read this book when I was in middle school, and now as I approach college it still is special to me. The older you get, the more you appreciate from this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2000

    Awesome Book!!!

    This book seemed very realistic. I can relate alot with the main character and how she acts about things. L'Engle did a marvelous job on the vivid details in this book. I recommend it to anyone who ever wants to live adventure!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2000

    Defenently A MUST!!

    Great book! Exciting, a real thriller! I just love all of the books about Vicky and Adam! Their cemestry is awesome!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2000

    Good Book

    I do recommend this book, even though it is not one of L'Engle's bests. If you are an L'Engle fan, such as me, you should read it. The mystery is confusing, even in the end, but the friends that Vicky Austin makes on her journey to Antarctica was put in the book well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2000


    I enjoyed this book. It started out a little slow but once she got on her voyage it became a lot more interesting. It was a little fake at the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 1999


    This book was a drag!! It was obvious that 'L'Engle tried to jazz up her story with fabulous detail, but all she ended up doing was putting me to sleep. Half of the time I couldn't even follow the story because it was too easy to get lost in. To those people who're thinking of buying this waste of time, DON'T!!

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