The third book in Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet series takes her tested approach to a thrilling young adult narrative and elevates it while diverting from her comfort zone. The child genius Charles Wallace is now well into his teen years, and his older sister, Meg, so often his protector and companion, is beginning a family of her own. But when an imminent threat of nuclear war arises, Charles Wallace is once again thrust into a winding journey through time to save the planet and everyone on it. L’Engle’s previous books were all about searching for answers through exploring our physical universe: A Wrinkle in Time traversed the cosmos and A Wind in the Door explored our biology. But A Swiftly Tilting Planet finds its solutions in the past. Instead of catapulting readers to incredible, fantastical landscapes devised from L’Engle’s imagination, this story is grounded in history—both personal and otherwise. While the novel, which won a National Book Award after its 1978 release, does take on, shall we say, alternative versions of American history, it still shines as a testament to the importance of our ancestry and a celebration of those who came before us. Instead of whisking readers away to the wonders of different worlds, A Swiftly Tilting Planet shows them, with L’Engle’s signature childlike exuberance, the adventures that exist in our own backyard. —Peter Allen Clark

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