Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L'Engle

Title: A Wind in the Door
Author: Madeleine L’Engle

“She stood beside him, looking at the brilliance of the stars. Then came a sound, a sound which was above sound, beyond sound, a violent, silent, electrical report, which made her press her hands in pain against her ears. Across the sky, where the stars were clustered as thickly as in the Milky Way, a crack shivered, slivered, became a line of nothingness.”

About a year has passed since the events of A Wrinkle in Time. Meg Murry’s father has been reunited with his family, and Meg herself is finding school slightly less vile than usual. But not everything is well. An unexplained phenomenon has been discovered in the universe -- a “cosmic scream” heard just before a star vanishes completely, apparently in violation of the law of conservation of mass and energy. Deep inside the human body, mitochondria and the farandolae who live within them are also “screaming,” an occurrence that may be connected to a recent rash of respiratory failure deaths.

And Meg’s little brother, Charles Wallace, is chronically pale and breathless.

The story begins when Charles Wallace informs Meg that “there are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.” Meg doesn’t quite know what to make of Charles Wallace’s bizarre statement, but before long she finds herself once again on a quest with paranormal companions, fighting the forces of darkness. The red-haired Calvin O’Keefe comes along, as does the dandruff-inflicted elementary school principal, Mr. Jenkins. But Charles Wallace is missing, because this time it is his life they are fighting for.

While neither as famous as A Wrinkle in Time nor as epic as A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Wind in the Door remains an excellent read. This is the book that taught me the meaning of the word “fewmets,” and the evil that Meg and the others encounter is genuinely frightening. Like all of L’Engle’s books, Wind is dark and complex, while at the same time remaining refreshingly optimistic concerning the power of laughter and love. The action of the final chapters is rather abstract, but this does nothing to detract from the power of the book’s ultimate conclusion. Yet another story to revisit during a cold and rainy day.

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posted by Elizabeth at 8:02 PM


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