In A Wind in the Door, Madeline L’Engle opens her story with Charles Wallace Murry, youngest of the four Murry Children, stating matter-of-factly to his older sister Meg Murry that “‘There are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.’” The tale grows stranger from there, as they encounter Mr. Jenkins, the bitter principal at Charles’ elementary school, and less familiar foes, the Ecthroi who seek to “x out” people by draining out who they truly are through their farandolae, miniscule creatures that live inside every cell in the human body unbeknownst to us. Dr. Murry, Meg and Charles’ mother, soon reveals that she has been studying farandolae and Charles’ subtly growing illness may be related to her research. With the help of an angel named Proginoskes, Meg, Mr. Jenkins, Meg’s sweetheart Calvin, and a farandola named Sporos must journey together through vast galaxies and tiny cells to save Charles Wallace as his illness grows deadly.Madeline L’Engle crafts a beautiful coming-of-age story from the perspective of Meg Murry, a teenage girl who (like many of us) is unsure of who she is. Within L’Engle’s quirky world full of fantastical biology and characters almost out of mythology, Meg not only finds herself, but finds out how each of her companions are unique and sacred. The whole host of characters act believably and their bonds with each other strike at the root of friendship and solidarity. Journeying with Meg & Co. to fantastical worlds filled me with wonder, but more importantly, L’Engles interpretation of ordinary life gave me a new way of appreciating everyday whimsy. L’Engle begins and ends the book with fantastical nonsense, but by the end of it, she’s made you fluent in her quirky language.
Lovers of this book will enjoy other books by Madeline L'Engle and would be interested in Neil Gaiman's writing as well, since both authors have unique and entrancing styles of narrating modern fantasy.