The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988. Twelfth printing. Hardcover. 245 pages ; 21 cm. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!
THE YOUNG UNICORNS is a novel of suspense set in New York City's Upper West Side near a great cathedral, where much of the action takes place. The large cast of characters includes the Austin family and Canon Tallis (already well known to L'Engle fans), but the most important are Emily Gregory and Josiah (Dave) Davidson.
Emily is a brilliant girl musician of twelve who has been blinded in an accident that occurred in her home under peculiar circumstances. Emily has learned Braille and manages to continue with her music and school studies with the help of seventeen-year-old Dave, who acts as her reader. Dave is a gifted, intelligent boy from a broken family and had at one time been a member of a tough gang known as the Alphabats. These young hoodlums have a bad influence on the life of their section of the city. When the story opens, Dave has broken with the Alphabats and is finding, through his work with Emily and his acquaintanceship with the Austins, who live upstairs in Emily's house, a new and more satisfactory life.
When the Alphabats try to force Dave back into their orbit, he resists them. But gradually we learn that something more sinister than the mere gang rituals of adolescent goons is taking place: that an evil intelligence is operating on a far more dangerous level and that not only Emily and Dave, but the Austin children too, and even their father, are targets for corruption or destruction. How they are saved is the climax of a highly original story that mirrors much of the violent disturbance of life in our cities today.
MADELEINE L'ENGLE lives in New York City and is the author of the following books published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux: A Wrinkle in Time (1962), The Moon by Night (1963), The TwentyFour Days before Christmas (1964), The Arm of the Starfish (1965), The Journey with Jonah (1967), and Dance in the Desert (1969). Her adult novel, The Love Letters, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1966. Miss L'Engle is especially well known in the library field because of her many appearances as a speaker at library and school meetings. Her books have received important awards, the most illustrious of these being the Newbery Award in 1963 for A Wrinkle in Time.
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