I read L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time several years ago and again recently for school and enjoyed the book both times, but I've never felt compelled to read the rest of the series. The only reason I read this second installment was because my teacher suggested I do so for my final Children's Literature essay. I'm very glad she suggested I do so, because I really enjoyed it. It's a nice little gem of a novel and a great classic (is it old enough to be a classic? How old does a book need to be before it can be called a classic?)
L'Engle is often pegged as a Christian writer, and while it was fairly obvious Wrinkle, it's definitely a lot more so in Wind. I'm not religious in any way (I would consider myself atheist, but I found that word's become synonymous with 'religion-hater', which I'm not either), but this book still spoke to me on many levels. L'Engle is not preachy in any way, and instead of just drawing on Christian elements, she draws on elements of all kinds of religion. For example, I found out through research for my essay that kything (the mental telepathy that Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace possess) was drawn upon some kind of Buddhist meditation. I thought that was really neat. L'Engle also uses these religious elements to expound on a bunch of universal themes: love, learning to see past someone's surface, the importance of having an imagination and an open mind, and the importance of growing up and learning to see outside yourself.
Like in Wrinkle, L'Engle blends science-fiction and fantasy seamlessly. Her books are just different than the usually MG/YA fare and she's really creative. She creates and builds on all these different worlds that are macroscopic (such as Meg and the gang traveling to completely different dimensions) to the microscopic (traveling inside one of Charles' mitochondria inside his body.) Actually, L'Engle's interplay between the macroscopic and microscopic is really fascinating in and of itself.
I think what really makes these books for me though is Meg. I empathize with that poor girl so much. She's a bit of a loner and doesn't really feel like she fits, and she just wishes she were a bit prettier. I remember feeling much the same way when I was thirteen years old (and I'm sure many other people as well.) She's far from perfect, but what pre-teen isn't? I also love Calvin, who is just a huge sweetheart. The only thing is I remember when I was sixteen, I definitely wasn't into thirteen year olds. I love the two of them together so much though that I was able to look past that quite easily. I buy into their innocent (though most sixteen-year old boys are anything but) relationship and found it really sweet and endearing. The passages describing when they kythe together are really quite nice and give me that warm fuzzy feeling.
Final Verdict: I really liked this novel. It's very sweet, and has a great cast of characters (especially Calvin and Meg). There's a lot of religious stuff going on in this title, but it's done very, very well and serves to broaden very universal themes without falling into cliches. L'Engle's story is super imaginative and is unlike any kind of science-fiction or fantasy I've ever come across, and is a breath of fresh air: it's a fantasy without swords and magic and a sci-fi without space-ships or aliens (I'm not saying these two genres are restricted to just these things, but you guys know what I mean, right?) I want to check out the rest of L'Engle's children's literature, because this book really struck a chord with me.