Saturday, April 13, 2019

A to Z: Letters to Dead Writers: Madeleine L'Engle

This month I'm writing one post for each letter of the alphabet, all on the theme of "Letters to Dead Writers." You can see my theme reveal post here and learn more about the blogging challenge here.

Today's writer is Madeleine L'Engle

Dear Ms. L'Engle,

I often hear that readers, especially young ones, need both "mirrors" and "windows" in the books they read. They need to see themselves in the stories, and they need a peek into other worlds, a chance to see what's possible outside the boxes they've been raised in. Your books were both of those for me, at the same time.  

A Wrinkle in Time,  A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and A Wind in the Door were among the first fantasy books I ever read. Images from these stories have stayed with me my entire life. Who could forget the three wise women Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit? Not to mention Aunt Beast and The Black Thing?

More important to me than the story itself though, was Meg Murry, the main character. At this point in my life, I had never encountered a heroine in book like Meg. She wasn't hero material. She wasn't the bravest, or smartest, or most beautiful. Unlike Nancy Drew, another favorite of mine at the time, it wasn't clear that she would overcome every obstacle from the outset. Meg struggled.

So far as she (and we the readers) knew, she was just a girl, and an awkward one at that, one who didn't have a lot of friends and struggled to control her anger sometimes. No one special. Not a chosen one. Just a girl.

So many of us grow up feeling like Meg: lonely, ostracized, judged. Sometimes that just adolescence taking potshots at our self confidence, but it doesn't matter if the situation is the objective truth. It's how it feels. And you knew how it felt to be that girl.

Thanks for making me feel seen just when I was feeling very invisible.



  1. It's a joy to make my way here and find your letters. I loved L'Engle's books as well, and your experience with them makes me remember them anew.

    1. Thanks so much. I think she meant a lot to a lot of us!

  2. This may be the coolest premise for an AtoZ theme that I've seen. This letter was so heartfelt and meaningful. Thank you for writing it!