At the intersection of adolescence and magic is transformation—and transformation happens to be the subject of this classic young-adult novel, which fuses an imaginative fantasy plot, timeless coming-of-age themes and mind-expanding ideas drawn from scrupulous study of science, literature and spirituality. Titan of the genre Madeleine L’Engle gave precocious readers (especially girls, a chronically underserved demographic for fantasy lit) an avatar in Meg Murry, a brilliant but hapless preteen outcast who struggles in school, battles bullies and longs to be reunited with her physicist father who mysteriously disappeared. Meg’s quest to find him takes her, her little brother Charles Wallace and her schoolmate Calvin on an interdimensional journey that reveals the dangers of conformity. By the end of this hugely influential book, which won a Newbery Medal in 1963 and came to the big screen in a lavish 2018 adaptation directed by Ava DuVernay, Meg has been transformed into a happier, more confident person. And it’s embracing what makes her different that gets her there. —Judy Berman

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