Meg Murry and I had a lot in common. Both socially awkward and somewhat outcast, I found her easy to relate to. We both felt like ugly ducklings; though at 13, we were also both convinced that we would never be beautiful‚Äìand at that age, there‚Äôs nothing more important than beauty and popularity, both of which we were convinced we lacked. We were smart, though it didn‚Äôt always go recognized. Lastly, we were fiercely loyal to those who earned it‚Äìand woe to those who did something to lose our loyalty!
In other ways, though, we were very different. Though New England always looked like Oregon‚Äôs Willamette Valley in my head, there was a subtle difference in the attitudes of the characters (though some of that could be attributed to reading the book nearly 30 years after it had been written) and their lifestyles. Sprawling farmhouses were not a common theme in my life, and though my grandparents may have had woodlands in their back garden, I did not. Nor did I have an absent father or three younger siblings (I didn‚Äôt want them, either, so that was probably for the best!).
Though I didn‚Äôt have any experiences of my own to compare with Meg‚Äôs relationship with her younger brothers, particularly Charles Wallace, I could relate to it. The unconditional love, the occasional frustrations, and the overwhelming terror at the prospect of losing him were mine as well as Meg‚Äôs. I shared her fears and her longings, because Madeleine L‚ÄôEngle‚Äôs writing is strong enough to create those real feelings of empathy. All of her works explore universal human traits of finding one‚Äôs inner strength and searching for the truth and beauty in life, but 13 year-old Meg Murry and I had more in common than I did with Charles Wallace or the twins (main characters in other books of the Time Quintet). Her journey through time and space taught me that though parents aren‚Äôt infallible, that very trait can help us to become our best, and triumph over our doubts.
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Girl Museum Inc.