by Madeline L’Engle
First sentence: “It was a dark and stormy night.”
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I thought, as I started this deceptively small novel, what was it that captivated me about this book when I was a child? See, I have the copy I originally got — was it a gift? did I buy it with my own money? — and it’s well-loved. I remember reading it over and over again, though I stopped sometime in high school, and honestly haven’t picked it up (or thought much about it) before I cracked it open last week.
When I finished, though, I knew exactly what I loved about it. See, I was Meg. I was geeky, awkward, kind of smart (but not in everything), and felt I was unable to quite fit in. The idea that someone like me — that Meg, of all the characters — would be the one to save the day, would be the one with the answers, and (most importantly to my 11 year old self) would be the one to find love, gave me immense hope.
Going back to this book as an adult, one thing really surprised me: it’s an incredibly religious work. Not in the same way that, say, Narnia is — it’s more blatant than that. There’s the good-versus-evil element, of course, though L’Engle’s vision of evil is more subtle than I remembered (Evil is sameness? I can see that…), but it’s also the the references to Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which as Guardian Angels. It’s sometimes small little things throughout, but it’s also the big things, like this quote from Mrs. Who:
The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring naught things that are.
Religious aspects aside, I still love the story. It’s Meg’s story, of course, and her growth and coming into her own. That still captivated me. I loved the Mrs.es, adored Charles Wallace, and enjoyed the story, though it wasn’t as unputdownable as I remember it being when I was a child. Still, I’m glad I took the time to revisit the world and the Murrys.