Madeleine L’Engle, who in writing more than 60 books, including childhood fables, religious meditations and science fiction, weaved emotional tapestries transcending genre and generation, died Thursday in Connecticut. She was 88.
Her death, of natural causes, was announced today by her publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Back when I thought I wanted to be a scientist I took my cues from books like A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless Light. I still like my science sprinkled liberally with poetry, mysticism and teen angst. Her heroines were usually awkward, smart dreamers refreshingly removed the mire of adolescent drama. Even now when I read the books I still find them a cut above usual fiction. I've only read one of her "adult" novels, so I can't really say much about them. The one I did read, A Live Coal in the Sea, doesn't quite rise to the occasion. The stakes are adult and real but fail to capture the imagination. Instead of something new and interesting, we're left with a moderately smart soap opera. But I think there's something more valuable to what she could do with her young adult fiction, something that absorbs and heals those old teenage hurts even after we've passed into the adult world.