Round 1, Match 6: A Ring of Endless Light vs. Saffy’s Angel

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Judged by Steph • Find her on Goodreads


Before I begin, I feel like I should let you all in on little secret: I love books that revolve around families and relationships and life in general. They are my favorite type of books. And both books I was assigned to judge this match dealt with family relations and growing up and I loved that so much so thank you for that, Beth. Now, ahem, moving onto the book I was given, Saffy’s Angel and A Ring of Endless Light.

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay is a HYSTERICAL book. I mean, I feel bad saying that because the plot mostly revolves around thirteen year old Saffy and how she feels left out and alone from her family after finding out that she was adopted as a toddler and that her parents are in reality her biological aunt and uncle and her brother and sisters are in fact her biological cousins. So the whole book deals with her feeling alone and trying to find a place where she feels like she belongs in her family. And you would think that the book would be sad with a plot like that, but it’s not and that is what make this book so GREAT and made me fall in love with it. The Carson family is just so robust and alive and while they are crazy and a little bit odd, they are also a very loving and understanding family who are there for each other.

Rose’s work of art took her all day, including two playtimes, story time, and most of lunch. At the end of school it was stolen from her by the wicked teacher who had pretended to be so interested.

“Beautiful- what-is-it?” she asked as she pinned it high on the wall, where Rose could not reach.

“They take your pictures,” said Indigo… when he finally made out what all the roaring and stamping was about. “They do take them… Why do you want that picture so much?” he asked Rose.

“It was my best ever,” said Rose furiously. “I hate school. I hate everyone in it. I will kill them all when I’m big enough.”

“You can’t just go round killing people,” Indigo told her.

The parents are crazy, a little self centered and oblivious to the needs of their four children (they are both artists) and a couple times I just wanted to grab them by the shoulders and shake them for their absentmindedness (the dad was worse then the mom though, by a wide margin). And as much as Saffy doesn’t believe she is as much their child as the other three children are, she is. The Carson parents love their children, they just don’t spend that much time tending to their emotional needs. But at that makes the bond the four children share very strong which I loooooved.

“She had to go,” said Rose.
“It was because of her angel,” said Indigo.
“And because of Granddad,” added Caddy.
“And because of her nose stud.”
“And because her name isn’t on the color chart.”
“She’s lonely,” said Rose. “That’s why.”

Also can we talk about Michael and Caddy and the driving lessons? Because he was a TERRIFIC addition to this story – “Don’t call me darling. I’m a driving instructor!” THE ABSOLUTE BEST.

And now onto A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle. I feel I should preface this story by saying last year I read the preceding book in this series but I wasn’t in love with that book enough to continue reading onto this one. But now, after reading A Ring of Endless Light, I feel bad for not continuing on because this book was so good. The Austin family! The dolphins! Adam! It takes place one summer when the main character Vicky is almost sixteen. Her grandfather is dying from leukemia and Vicky and her parents and three siblings are staying with him on his island home because he’s not expected to make it beyond the summer. (insert sadpanda gif here) If it sounds sad, well, it kind of is. Vicky and her family are very close and reading the book was difficult for me at times just because the grief and pain and worry and fear they each felt is handled so well. When little Rob started crying at one point, I nearly started crying. Also, the grandfather’s leukemia is not the only brush with death Vicky and her family experiences during this summer and so it really gets to the reader (or at least it did to me).

“If we knew each morning that there was going to be another morning, and on and on and on, we’d tend not to notice the sunrise, or hear the birds, or the waves rolling into shore. We’d tend not to treasure our time with the people we love.”

In addition to death, the other major plot line is that Vicky is being courted/dated/wooed (I don’t know what the cool kids are calling it these days, sorry) by three different boys. Three boys after you is confusing to any teenage girl but especially confusing when you add the fact that all three boys are going through their own personal struggles and trials and they are leaning on Vicky for support. It overwhelms Vicky a bit (can you blame her?) and makes her struggle with her feelings because she doesn’t really know who she likes as a friend or more. It’s funny because in any other book I feel I would be jealous of a fifteen year old with three boys vying for her attention (I know. I know. I’m a awful person) but I actually felt empathy and worry for Vicky because at times she was so busy trying to save these three young men from their demons that she lost track of herself. But I liked the ending, I liked who she called –“Vicky called me and I came” (BE STILL MY BEATING HEARTTTTT!! I am so hunting down the next book in this series just to see what becomes of that particular storyline).

Okay, so now my choice on which book I want to advance to the next round. Both books are good (duh!) but in the end, I chose Saffy’s Angel to advance pretty much based on the fact that it is happier and MORE uplifting than A Ring of Endless Light. I really fell in love with Saffy and her family and I laughed quite a few times while working my way through. A Ring of Endless Light, which I did end up liking, and I fell in love with that family too, had too many somber and sad moments for me and I was just not in the mood for that. At one point I almost stopped reading because it was making me sad but I continued because I knew I was reading it for this. I love books that get in my head enough to affect me, but this week I was not in the mood to be sad while reading. So Saffy’s Angel is moving on! Because someone else needs to read it even if it just to laugh with me at the car scene at the end:

“BE NICE. DO NOT HONK.”
……….
“WE ARE TURNING RIGHT IN A MINUTE.
SHE HATES TURNING RIGHT.”


Congratulations to Saffy’s Angel, which moves on to Round 2!

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35 thoughts on “Round 1, Match 6: A Ring of Endless Light vs. Saffy’s Angel

  1. MICHAEL’S FAKE GIRLFRIEND, THOUGH!! He was SO BAD at lying and poor Caddy believing him the whole time!!!

    Of course, I am very sad over my beloved Ring of Endless Light. LOVE your point about not being jealous over Vicky’s 3 love interests. It felt real, too, not like that cliche ya paranormal where all the boys are suddenly into the main character! Also, even though I have a CLEAR FAVORITE, I’m not really resentful of the other boys taking her time.

    You should definitely read the next book and the Casson Family books, too. And then Hilary McKay’s other books. I love that her books make me laugh out loud.

    1. Soooo WordPress ate my first comment 🙂 BUT what I was saying was DROOPY DI. And then the way that detail was worked into the story, too, like later on when Michael said something outrageous and then pointed out that Caddy didn’t hit the brakes or burst into tears! How does this book interrelate so well??

      It’s the curse of the bracket 😦 SO MANY GREAT BOOKS WENT DOWN.

      1. You picked good books to be pitted up against each other Beth. I don’t think Jess is going to forgive me anytime soon for not advancing Ring of Endless Light and I blame you for that. 🙂

        1. So, you’re saying I should blame Beth for this outcome (despite the fact that the books are in alphabetical order). Don’t get me wrong, I’m down with that. Pretty sure I’ve already threatened not to speak to Beth at least once in this bracket.

          To be fair, this is not a book I was ever going to be rational about. I haven’t even read the other one, but that is also irrelevant.

    2. Drooy Di! Ohmygod yes. I knew early on she wasn’t real but Caddy believing him and trying so darn hard, oh I love her so much.

      even though I have a CLEAR FAVORITE, I’m not really resentful of the other boys taking her time
      Agreed. All three boys are well written and flawed and I love that Vicky sees the good and bad parts of each of them. It makes me like them even though yes, I HAVE A CLEAR FAVORITE AS WELL.

      And yep, all these books are on my TBR pile. I think I’ll start with Troubling Star next though. I need to know more about my dear Vicky.

  2. I just finished re-reading Saffy’s Angel last night, so all of this was fresh in my memory, and it is HILARIOUS. And YES to Michael’s fake girlfriend!!! That Caddy believed him…oh, I love how their relationship plays out in the later books.

    I loved Ring of Endless Light when I was a teen. I can’t tell you how many times I read it. And now…I don’t know. I’ll read it and post an actual review on Goodreads. Anyway, I would have been happy to see either of these advance, but I picked Saffy in the mock brackets, so it’s a good day in Book Battle Land for me.

    1. Just realized that I have no idea when Ring was released! I think I remember that L’Engle died in 1994, though. So sometime before then 🙂

      1. WRONG. ALL WRONG.

        She died in 2007. Ring of Endless Light was 1980. Troubling a Star was 94! (Okay, I had to look most of that up. I knew the last one, though, and that she died recently. Well, 07 seems recent to ME.)

        1. …SHE ONLY JUST DIED? Why do I feel so much worse now that it’s so much more recent??

          (I knew something happened in 94. And wow. Hmmm. How does Izzy (also an 80s book, right?) hold up against Ring? They’re such different works!)

        2. I bought Troubling a Star at a school book fair. I still have my stamped copy. Though I think it was in 1995.

          (I also have an ARC that I found in a used bookstore in college. I am never giving that up.)

    2. Oh I’m glad someone picked Saffy to advance so yay! And there is more to Caddy and Micheal’s relationship in the other books. Oooooh. I was already planning to read them but now I am doubly intrigued!

        1. There is no shame in that. Only good sense. I’m pretty sure most of my love for the book when I was young was driven by how very attractive he is in every way.

    1. Adam Eddington is amazing and perfect (like when he backed off when he and Vicky were getting close and Vicky was all “why is he doing that? I thought we were getting along, stupid boy”.) If he and Vicky don’t end up together in the next book I will cry.

  3. Can I confess that I’m throughly happy with this choice because I don’t want to reread A Ring of Endless Light. It was a huge favorite of mine back in the day. Read it the first time in 5th grade and there were many rereads in 6th and 7th. But I don’t have the best of luck with most childhood favorites I choose to reread. Only exceptions: A Wrinkle in Time and Anne of Green Gables. So I’m trying not to ruin my good memories by rereading things.

    I do love how funny the Casson books are, but that they are also real in how affected the kids are by their parents’ neglect. Which gets worse as the series progresses-I kind of hate them, especially Bill, by the end.

    1. AROEL held up for me, but I do understand the impulse. (And I maintain that Anne of Green Gables is better when you’re older than Anne, which admittedly still quite a range.)

    2. I looked ahead at everyone’s reviews of the later Casson books on GR (and when I say everyone I mean you all that I’m friends with) and wow, the parents seem to get worst later on. Which leads me to hesitate a bit because while I was annoyed with the parents in here I definitely didn’t HATE them and I’m afraid of that for the later books.

      1. I actually… didn’t like the later books at all. I’d stop after Indigo’s book; I think that one is still excellent and funny. And Caddy’s World – the prequel – is also really good! But some of the later kids books get so dark in terms of the parents that they’re just… not funny anymore.

        1. I really liked the advice you all gave me not to read them all in a row. I did one a week and it made for a pretty good reading experience that way.

          1. Yeah, I’m wondering if I’d have liked them better that way. I don’t know, though. I think there are plot elements in the later books that just don’t work for me.

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