A Wind in the Door

by Madeline L’Engle
ages: 9+
First sentence: “There are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.”
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I always remembered this one, from when I read it as a kid, as my “favorite”. Though, if you had asked me, I don’t think I could have pinpointed why. So, I was quite curious to reread the book: maybe I would love it as much as I remembered loving it. And maybe I could finally pinpoint the elusive why.

So. Charles Wallace is having problems. He’s not adapting to school particularly well, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the precocious child that he is. On top of that, something more fundamental is wrong: he’s sick, down in his very cells. Meg, Calvin and Mr. Jenkins (the school principal) together with the cheribum Proginoskes have to work together to battle the evil that’s invading the world and save Charles.

Honestly? I liked the book well enough, but I couldn’t pinpoint why it was my favorite. It was less overtly religious than Wrinkle in Time was, but there were still overtones of the Ultimate Battle. There was a lot about Hate and war and instant gratification versus Doing Ones’ Duty. Maybe that was it: the fact that Duty wins out over Fun and Frivolity. Perhaps I just wanted justification for my innate personality quirks?

I was disappointed in Meg; while she was still the heroine and she still did the most work, she just wasn’t as engaging a character as I felt she was in Wrinkle. That, and I just didn’t get much out of the plot: it seemed to be spinning in circles. Perhaps it was me, but I felt it just had too much narration and not enough action.

Then again, I may just be nitpicking. My 11-year-old self adored this book. And I might just be content to let it stay that way.


9 thoughts on “A Wind in the Door

  1. I decided not to read any more of these books. I hadn't read them when I was a kid and I worried that reading the rest would ruin whatever enjoyment I still had left of Wrinkle.


  2. This was by far my favorite too, Melissa, and I'm not entirely sure why…It might be because I wanted to be Good (in a rather piously Victorian Child Way), and so the message of making a conscious effort to love others appealled greatly. I remember, so help me, making a conscious effort to feel loving toward the principal of my school as I fell asleep at night…

    Which was a bit much, but still not such a bad way to approach life. I am much less Good now, however.

    (and I never went so far as to play Polyanna's Glad Game. There were limits).


  3. The second paragraph, third sentence of your review tells it all. You were not adapting to school particularly well at age 11 either, which is why you probably related to this–that and wanting to live in a fantasy world. It's too bad, sometimes, that we have to grow up.


  4. Charlotte — I think that was part of it, too, that I wanted to be good. (I agree about Pollyanna, too!)

    And Mom (I'm assuming it's you and not Dad), I always thought I identified with Meg most because she was a bit awkward, but maybe it was, in this case, because she was doing something about Charles Wallace not fitting in. I can see that.


  5. I was never wild about this one, either. Their mission didn't seem as – I don't know, for some reason it didn't seem as clear-cut, though when I articulate the plot to myself, it seems fairly clear. I liked Swiftly Tilting Planet too – I loved the idea that they could change the way history ran. Most time travel sorts of books I've read don't let you change things.


  6. Funny, A Wind in the Door was always my least favorite, and I've never had the desire to go back and re-read it. I think the biggest turn-off for me was the presence of Mr. Jenkins.


  7. That is always such a bummer when your adult self doesn't love a book as much as your kid self did.

    I read this series for the first time as an adult and loved it on the whole, but maybe I should reread it and see if I notice the same issues.


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