A Wind In The Door – Madeleine L’Engle
Just before Meg Murry's little brother, Charles Wallace, falls deathly ill, he sees dragons in the vegetable garden. The dragons turn out to be Proginoskes, a cherubin composed of wings and eyes, wind and flame. It is up to Meg and Proginoskes, along with Meg's friend Calvin, to save Charles Wallace's life. To do so, they must travel deep within Charles Wallace to attempt to defeat the Echthroi—those who hate—and restore brilliant harmony and joy to the rhythm of creation, the song of the universe.
Review: I try to be kind and balanced in my reviews, but I struggled with this one. A Wind in the Door is honestly one of the most irritating children’s books I’ve ever encountered. I understand that it’s a beloved classic, but I just . . . couldn’t deal with it.
The book starts out in a promising way. Six-year-old Charles Wallace has started first grade. He gets bullied by his classmates every day, and the school doesn’t know how to handle his unusual intelligence. To make things worse, he’s been feeling sick lately. Then, one day, he sees a bunch of dragons in his brothers’ vegetable garden. After that, things just get bizarre.
I recently heard this novel described as “The Christian Magic School Bus on LSD.” That description actually sums up the book nicely.
I appreciate that the author tries to blend science and faith, but this book has very little real science, and “God’s Plan” can’t fill gaping plot holes. I don’t mind weirdness in a book—especially a children’s book—but I want some logic and explanation behind the weirdness. This book just gave me tedious conversations and a lot of heavy-handed metaphysical morals.
My biggest frustration with this book is its repetitiveness. The characters go to a setting; have a long, circular, whiney conversation that solves nothing; then they go to a different setting; have another long-winded conversation; go to another setting; have another conversation . . . .
I wanted the characters to do something. Charles Wallace is dying. You’d think this would give the characters some agency, but they mostly stand around talking about philosophy and trying to turn everything into a deep life lesson. I don’t get it. Save Charles Wallace first and discuss what you learned afterward. Or, better yet, save Charles Wallace and trust that the readers are smart enough to figure out the lessons for themselves.
This book was just not for me . . . .