18 October, 2021

Our Favorite Fictional Friends

Meg and Charles Murray,
A Wrinkle In Time a wrinkle in time

Like many boys I know, including my son, my reading went in a certain direction when I was young. My first interest was dinosaurs, then astronomy, then mythology, and so on. The natural progression from astronomy was science fiction which would lead to fantasy and, hence, mythology.

During my first forays into sci-fi, my mom gave me one of those wonderful books that would stay with me my entire life. When I read Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, I felt as though I knew Meg and Charles Murray and Calvin O’Keefe like they were friends. L’Engle’s masterpiece (rejected 26 times, by the way, after it was written in 1959) is much like the Harry Potter series in the way it has the ability to draw young readers and hook them. I was no different.

I was ostracized as a child by some of my peers due to various issues including my family’s lack of wealth and my lack of social graces. It was for these reasons and others that Meg and Charles spoke to me so clearly. Charles being a “sport” as he liked to refer to himself, as well as Meg’s awkwardness, especially when it came to her affection for Calvin, mirrored the things I felt as a boy. While I don’t pretend that I was a super genius like Charles, being different has many faces but oft times, the same feelings of exclusion.

The other aspect of the book that made the Murray children and Calvin so realistic and compelling was the realism L’Engle incorporated regarding the danger they faced while attempting to rescue the Murrays’ father. They were scared. Their quest was dangerous and their fear was palpable, but the beauty of their story was it was a brilliant example of fear not being the absence of courage, but being courageous despite being afraid and not being a slave to fear. Those kids made me realize I could be an individual and that I didn’t have to be afraid of standing out. Their story may be 50+ years old, but it’s still one that resonates within me and hopefully always will.

-Kurt Bali

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