Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Wind in the Door (1973)

Madeleine L'Engle published A Wind in the Door, the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time, in 1973. The book was written a time of turmoil in America, for culture in general and main street Protestantism in specific. Urban blight had eaten away at the core of the cities, leading to more violence and more anxiety. The Me Generation of the 1960's had come of age, starting their worship of Bacchus at Woodstock and not stopping until the disco lay in ruins. Many movements had produced radical elements, committing violence in the name of God. And in all of this, where lay the selfless Christian? Where lay Christian love?

That love stands as the crux of this book makes the greatest of sense. By love, I do not mean emotional love and tenderness, although that is held as high in importance, but the general concern for others and their welfare, and actions based on those values. What is selfless love and how does that stand against selfish love? How is it that selfless love builds our world, while selfish love tears our world down, to the ultimate demise of the selfish?

And so we return to Meg, but a long summer after the last book, in the colder part of autumn. Charles Wallace grows ill. The world seems to be tearing itself apart. There's a rip in the cosmos. And from beyond comes a new Teacher for Meg, a few new friends, an old antagonist, and a mission to save Charles Wallace.

Overall, I found the book equally charming as A Wrinkle In Time, written with the same clarity and the same mainstream Protestant ethic. The story proceeds well, never letting itself bog down. The characters are consistent and crisp. The theology is very straight forward, avoiding over-complication in favor of sincerity. The book did get a while to get going, not really kicking in the plot until halfway through the work. That would be death for a book today, but I rather appreciate the attention to character and affection. You really can't empathize with characters that you skim over, and unlike an adventure novel, the resolution does not rely on a fight or a clever ploy, but with character and integrity.