L'Engle, M. (1980). A ring of endless light. New York NY: Random House, Inc. 324pp. (Grade Level: 4-7).
I didn't realize A Ring of Endless Light was a part of a series when I picked it up.
I didn't realize I'd read the first in the series, Meet the Austins, a while back.
But, I think it worked okay as a stand alone.
Vicky and her family are on the Island living with her grandfather because he is dying and they want to be there for him and with him as long as possible. And while they visit, she finds herself with three boys. Leo, who is a friend from the island and struggling through mourning and wanting to be more than just friends with Vicky. Zachary, a rich, suicidal young man who keeps Vicky on her toes and takes her out on extravagant dates on the mainland. And Adam, who has a special project with dolphins he needs Vicky's help for.
All the characters seem to do a lot of deep thinking, mostly about life, and death. They try to help each other, some more than others, and I'm not particularly sure anyone besides grandfather makes any decisions about what to believe after all the talking.
Side Note:: The Scholastic website suggests that this book fits the interest level of 4th-7th graders, but I would contradict that. There are so many heavy and deep and thought provoking things in this story that I would think that 7th grade be the minimum, or even 8th or 9th. Certainly, a fourth grader may be able to read the prose, but that doesn't mean they should. And besides, even I, a college student, had to write down some words to look up.
I like that each of the children had a 'box of special junk', and I think that if I had one, it would be very full indeed. I am also intriqued by the fact that the family sang grace at dinner and I want to know how that would sound. I like the whole relationship Vicky had with Adam, and after you've read the book, if you want to know, email me and I'll tell you all the little parts I like. I wrote them down. I also like John. He seems to be a perfect big brother. I especially adore the conversation they had under the stars. I love that the family read Shakespeare together. And that their mother listened to classical music when she did housework. I love John's definition of Old Fashioned.
I really think its messed up how she kept leading on all three guys at the same time. And how her family didn't call her out on it, not in the least. Their excuse, if they had to give any, probably would have had something to do with being preoccupied: with work, with play, or with grandfather dying. 'Tis a reminder, I suppose, that no matter what is going on in our lives, we need to pay attention to those around us whom we love, and stay involved in their lives, and pay attention to them, and notice when something isn't as it should be, and talk to them about it. People are important and we cant forget it.