Troubling a Star: (Austin Family, Book 5)

by Madeleine L'Engle

Paperback, 2008



Local notes

PB Len




Square Fish (2008), 336 pages


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.



Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

336 p.; 5.28 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member delphica
Vicky Austin is given a wonderful gift of a trip to Antarctica, but things take a turn for the more dramatic when she inadvertently crosses paths with a group of unsavory conspirators. The book opens with Vicky stranded on an iceberg, and the story unfolds as she reflects back on the events that
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led her to this predicament.

The book is rich with details about the Antarctic voyage, and the vivid images send a strong environmental message about this unique region. Long-time L'Engle fans will most likely enjoy some new insights about the fictional South American country of Vespugia, also featured in "A Swiftly Tilting Planet." As a character, Vicky seems a little more out of place than she did in her original appearance in 1960s "Meet The Austins" -- she doesn't ring true for me as a teenager in the present day, but after all these years I like her very much and am willing forgive the somewhat clumsy tone that has crept into L'Engle's later novels about teens.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Ms. L'engle does a good job of capturing the earnestness and concern for the world that teens and young adults often express. Liked the continuation of Vicky's story.
LibraryThing member mseymou1
Troubling a Star is one of my all-time favorite books. In this novel, Vicky Austin, beloved heroine of many of L'Engle's novels, goes on a cruise to Antarctica, and gets wrapped up in political intrigue along the way. The book does a fantastic job of weaving the story of Vicky's personal struggles
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as a teenage girl and the political situation she has stumbled into.
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LibraryThing member Periodista
A Wrinkle in Time it ain't. It's part of a series, so maybe it doesn't matter, especially if the reader is young enough--probably no more than 12.

The protagonist, Vicky, is a senior (or junior?) in high school. The book takes place in the early 1990s in Connecticut, but the curriculum would be
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weak tea for a girl in the 1890s. She isn't taking physics or chemistry but "science." She has already taken one year of French in New York, her brother is at Harvard, but the high school only offers first year Spanish, which she doesn't even take. (Any 4-year high school in Ct in the 1990s offered at least 3 years of Spanish and you'd better have at least 3 years of a foreign language if you're aiming higher than the nearest community college.) These complaints probably seem petty, but any reader with an older sibling is going to know this is out of whack.

The adult reader will notice other things; conversations are beyond stilted, especially between the girl and her would-be boyfriend. L'Engle isn't good at characterization or nature descrptions either. I was most annoyed when the girl ended up on an iceberg in Antartica: well, what the hell does it look like? Flat? Mountains? Ice mounds? Is there wind? Do you try to walk around? Doesn't the ice and wet seep through to your bum? Which reminds me, what is she wearing anyway? Specifically. The mystery re which of several charming young-ish men might be crooks is weak too.

On the plus side--this is the early 1990s, recall--the book is trying to get across basic info about global warming. I think a pre-teenager will place this novel the way we used to read Nancy Drew: it's some never-never not very specific time before the internet and mobile phones but after ...I'm not sure, actually. TV , music, bitchy schoolmates, a driver's license and clothes aren't significant at all to this girl. It's never-never teenage land.

Maybe none of this matters. This could just well be the kind of YA book that doesn't grab nostalgic adults. It's a series about a family so there must be a built-in readership.
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LibraryThing member liahna89
By far my favourite of the Austin novels. The book contiues in the sligltly bizzare vein of the rest of Madeliene L'Engle's books. The reader must understand and take for granted that the books do not occur in any set time period, so the setting sometimes seems to take place in the future and
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sometimes in the past, (such is the charm of Madeline L'Engle's novels.
In the story Vicky Austin goes on the trip of a lifetime to Antartica where she becomes entangled in an international mystery that involes both her and her friend, Adam, as well as several other passangers on the journey. Written in the early 90's the plot contains references to early enviormentalism and the breakdown of the Soviet Union. I would reccomend to anyone who has enjoyed Madeline L'Engle books in the past.
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LibraryThing member adietrick
After a difficult year away from her small-town home, Vicky Austin struggles to readjust to the life she once new with her old school and old friends. Then she is introduced to her friend Adam's great-aunt, Serena, and finds herself increasingly happier and encouraged in both her writing and in her
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own identity. When Vicky receives a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica from Aunt Serena, she anticipates seeing new worlds with new people, as well as spending time with Adam. However, she is surprised when her new friendships bring with them mystery, adventure and intrigue. Vicky must unravel the clues and learn who to trust in order to make it home again. Readers of L'Engle's other Austin books will enjoy reading another story with Vicky as the protagonist - especially one set in the international locales of South America and Antarctica. Once again L'Engle tackles big issues, such as greed and political corruption. While this story dabbles less in the spirituality and philosophy present in other YA books by L'Engle, fans of her work will still be pleased with this addition to the Austin family series.
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LibraryThing member TrgLlyLibrarian
Very engrossing. Mystery, danger, shoot-outs, romance...
LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
Fifth and last in the Austin family series of novels for teenagers. Vicky, who narrates approaches sixteen at the chronological start of the book, although brief introductions to each chapter show her getting colder and colder on an iceberg in the Antarctic.

Very well written, with a great pace,
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slowly leading towards the reason why she is in such danger, and what the result is. It's a tense book, but the thriller theme is punctuated with Shakespeare, marine biology, and a few mentions of angels. It's political in places (although Vicky, like me, is mostly politically illiterate). The book is also very concerned with ecology, and the importance of preserving the Antarctic.

Definitely recommended to teens and anyone who enjoys a good series. Best read after the other Austin family books, but it's not essential.
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LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
L'Engle returns to the world of international intrigue and Cold War fears in a way that recalls the best of the O'Keefe family stories but has the best of her later characters: Vicky and Adam. Bonus: NO ZACHARY! It's a win for all, minus the fact that a lot of guys still make eyes at Vicky. I think
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that's kind of a weakness of L'Engles--her average female protagonists get an awful lot of play, and it's kinda suspicious.

That said, we get to meet a LOT of penguins, which I am perfectly okay with. And the time travels back and forth to ratchet up the suspense. I enjoyed the mystery and the ecological aspects of it. 4.5 stars.
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½ (274 ratings; 3.8)
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