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Madeleine LíEngle

The Arm of the Starfish

Buchbesprechung von Alexandra Schallert

About the author

Photo courtesy of Wheaton College Special Collections
Madeleine LíEngle was born on November 29, 1918 in New York. Her father was a foreign correspondent, but he was injured in World War I. The family moved quite often in search of a home that supported his medical needs.

Madeleine LíEngle went to several boarding schools. She graduated with honors from Smith College and began a short acting career. She married the actor Hugh Franklin on January 26, 1946, and shifted her career to writing, teaching and lecturing. The LíEngles have three children, who were raised in New York City, Goshen and Connecticut.

Madeleine L'Engle writes about things that she thinks need to be said. So her works have touched upon subjects ranging from death to homosexuality. The themes of her books come from new scientific discoveries, personal journal entries, and experiences in life.After her husband died in 1986, L'Engle wrote Two-Part Invention, which contemplates both the characteristics of a successful marriage and the difficulty in coping with death. L'Engle continues to write and publish books that members of every generation can enjoy.

The plot

coverThis books is about Adam Eddington, who gets a summer job in a lab near Lisbon. But before he starts to work, he has a meeting with Typhon Cutter, the head of the Embassy. Typhon asks Adam to bring him documents about the work of Dr. OíKeefe, who will be his instructor for the following weeks.

First, Adam doesnít trust anybody until he tells Dr. OíKeefe about the plan of the Embassy. Dr. OíKeefe decides to give some documents to the Embassy, but some wrong papers. He will give them papers of the research work about the arms of the starfish. But he also needs Adam to bring the real files to Lisbon, in which he wrote about a little boy who lost his finger when he was attacked by a shark and the doctor helped him get a new finger thanks to his experiments on starfish.

Therefore, Adam brings the starfish papers to the Embassy and tries to find a secure place to bring the right ones to. Unfortunately, the Embassy gets to know about the other files and catches Adam before he can hand over the papers to a friend of Dr. OíKeefeís. There is a big quarrel and fight about the documents until the right people get them. By the way, Typhon Cutter doesnít get arrested by the police, because he has to many friends there who can help him get free.

At the end of the book, the daughter of Typhon gets hurt by a shark. As Adam liked her up until the chase during Lisbon, he decides to help her. Therefore, he tries to convince Dr. OíKeefe to rescue her with the help of his new theory for growing limbs.

My opinion

First I thought that this book would turn out to be a love-story, but after I had read about a hundred pages the situation changed to Science-Fiction, because Dr. OíKeefe makes a lot of horrible experiments with starfish, frogs and lizards.

At the beginning I didnít know if this book was interesting or not. But I thought, that Iíd have to read more of the book until I could understand its meaning. Just at the end of the book I knew what the book really was about. I couldnít believe that the book dealt only with handing over files about experiments. But at the end I was really shocked, because there wasnít any real end. The author stopps it with a simple question like: "Is Dr. OíKeefe going to help the girl?".

I think itís a really good book and itís not too difficult to understand. But one thing I would like to change is, that there are too many different languages in this book. There are Portuguese, Spanish and Greek. Sure, I didnít have to understand the meaning of these sentences, but I wanted to.


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