Remembering Madeleine L’Engle

September 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

The world lost a brilliant author when Madeleine L’Engle died on this date in 2007. The first time I read A Wrinkle In Time, I was 11 years old and sitting in the curved branch of a tree on the library hill.  By the end of the first chapter, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I fell in love with a genre that day: with fantastic creatures living on alien planets, with cold space and dark times and the wheeling stars, with good and evil and the inherent magic in simple love.  A Wrinkle In Time was the first science fiction/fantasy book I read, and it changed the course of my literary life forever.

“A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe,” Madeleine L’Engle said in her Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech.  A Wrinkle In time did that for me.  Meg did that for me.  Meg, with her frizzy hair and thick glasses, her troubles at school, and her fierce and protective love for her family.  I saw myself in her as I read the book.  That sighting is the secret to being drawn into the world within a book.

My devotion to the universes in science fiction and fantasy has only grown over the decades since I sat in the tree and went whirling through space with Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace.  I learned to love swords and potions, princes in disguise, kingdoms toppled into ruin, and dragons.  A well-told dragon is the pinnacle of a story.  I’ve visited many a foreign planet and taken more unexpected journeys than I can count, but the very first step on the road started right here on Planet Earth, in a spooky attic with a grumpy teenage girl on a dark and stormy night.


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