A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, Book 4) - Madeleine L'Engle Dolphins! Yay!

Reading this from an adult perspective was interesting. I read all the Time Quartet books as a kid, but I never picked up the Austin books because after the Time books, the concept of realistic fiction just seemed boring. But I read this one after reading Lizzie Skurnick's essay about it in Shelf Discovery, and I'm glad I did. If I had read it as a kid I might have been turned off by the dated slang--a common problem in YA books. I also really appreciated some themes in it that might have been over my head as a kid--or maybe not? I identified strongly with the parts about meditation, because I've been practicing mindfulness for a while now, and while as a kid I didn't practice formally, I certainly understood the feeling of oneness with the universe that Vicky got from being by the ocean or with the dolphins. It really is something that seems to come naturally to kids and be difficult to obtain as adults, which is something L'Engle talks about in the book, as well as one of my favorite themes in The Amber Spyglass (ironically Pullman would probably hate being compared to L'Engle, a religious writer).

Adam Eddington is super dreamy. I was disappointed to read that he's not featured very much in the sequel, which is also apparently not as good? I might read it anyway, but only after I've had some time away from this book, because it was so good I wouldn't be able to not compare the two.

God, I wanted to smack Zachary Gray. I also found him fascinating though, because I feel like L'Engle was trying to portray a person with bipolar disorder, whether on purpose or not. He goes from being suicidal to engaging in reckless behavior and thinking he's invincible, which seems like a classic depression-mania cycle. I wanted Vicky to tell him to shove it, but I can also understand all too well the desire to help and support him, especially when he kept telling her she was the only thing keeping him sane, the best thing that had ever happened to him. What pressure to put on a person!

51 people have shelved this in "fantasy" for some reason. A little talking to dolphins does not make this a fantasy book. I MIGHT accept "magical realism." /tag police

I like that L'Engle has religious themes in her books without being preachy. Her concept of God is wide and encompasses many belief systems, even if she herself (and her characters) approaches it through Christianity. Her books are always about real people doing the best they can, and religion is just one of the many elements in their lives. They don't proselytize or refuse to associate with non-religious people, and they discuss God the way they would discuss anything else. It's refreshing.

As always, I love her perspective on science. Science as poetry, as metaphor, as something that brings us closer to the divine, even. Rather than being incompatible with religion, in L'Engle's books, science is just another way of approaching gnosis.

I tried to communicate telepathically with my cat while I was reading this, but she just kept napping.