At Louisville Literary Arts, we all love to read. But our interests in literature are as varied as hats on Derby Day. Some of us gravitate toward poetry, while others prefer an epic novel. A few of us love reading creative nonfiction. In this space, we recommend recent books we've read, and hope that you'll find something just right for your reading list.
Amy recommends: A WIND IN THE DOOR by Madeleine L'Engle (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1973)
Genre: Young Adult Literature
“’There are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.’” Thus begins Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door, a book that would now be labelled YA, and one of my favorite books of all time.
In this book Meg Murry, the fierce, determined girl introduced in the Newberry Award-winning A Wrinkle in Time who deals with the hazards of both glasses and braces (as did I), must now fight to save her brother Charles Wallace from succumbing to a mysterious disease.
Meg discovers that what Charles Wallace saw was not dragons, but instead a cherubim named Proginoskes (Progo for short). This creature, composed of many eyes and wings, has been assigned to their class by a Teacher, and together Meg, Progo, and her friend Calvin are assigned to save Charles Wallace by persuading farondolae inside him to stop destroying his mitochondria. Mr. Jenkins, the school principal that Meg severely dislikes, is also asked to join this venture.
What makes this book so meaningful to me is Meg’s struggle. She cares deeply for her little brother and wants to do something to stop the bullying he’s going through, but she doesn’t know how. Once the adventure begins and this motley crew that includes an extraterrestrial being and the school principal start trying to persuade farondolae to dance together rather than destroy Charles Wallace’s mitochondria, Meg is prickly and stubborn as they encounter the enemy. Her fear for her brother makes her angry, and she shows it. But she fights on, nonetheless.
And – a book geared toward young folks that mentions mitochondria! I found out later in life that L’Engle had made up farondolae, but mitochondria, as exotic as they sound, do exist.
Progo, that oddly named creature, becomes oddly dear to me in the course of this story as well. In the end, he sacrifices himself for Charles Wallace, and it is a wrenching thing to encounter that act in this tale. No punches are pulled by L’Engle – this is a story with real consequences. If Progo had not X-ed himself, Charles Wallace would have died.
But there’s a strength in that act, too. There’s a lot of strength as well in how Meg comes to accept Mr. Jenkins in all of his own prickliness. She has matured a great deal by the end of this tale. And she still stands for me as one of the best heroines in modern YA literature.
If you would like us to consider recommending your book, please contact LLA Reads editor Alice, who will let you know how to get your book to our readers.