Meeting Meg Murry by Monica Tesler
I will always remember meeting Meg Murry. Even though I’d lived in Tennessee for a few years by then, I still felt like an outsider. My whole family felt like outsiders. My parents’ midwestern accents sounded like record scratches breaking the fluid melody of southern drawl. My voice had adjusted quickly. By then I sounded like I was born and raised a mile from Sinking Creek. My mother saved an audio tape of me playing Flash Gordon with my neighbor. I listen to it sometimes just to hear the lovely lilt of my voice, thick with the sounds of the south.
But sounding the same didn’t mean I fit in. I felt different. I was different, and it had little to do with my family being Yankees as the adults would say. My brain worked differently than most. I would consume school lessons quickly and then wander in a dense world of my own imagination where dragons roamed and witches cast their spells. I had a rigid and stubborn sense of justice. Once I raised my hand to defend a friendless boy in my class. I knew as I lifted my arm that I was breaking a code, but the alternative was to break a code carved in my heart.
I loved to read and devoured books far beyond the class reading level. The school offered to skip me ahead a grade, but my mother refused. Instead, they placed me in a reading group alone. It was then that my teacher handed me A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
In those pages, I met Meg Murry.
Meg is smart and quirky and sometimes insecure. She thinks deep thoughts. She struggles, and she doesn’t understand everything, but she wants to. She’s keenly aware of being different.
There’s a glimmer of her brother in Meg. Charles Wallace: a boy who speaks very little and almost only to Meg and others close to him, who is brilliant but ridiculed as stupid, who seems not to hear or care, who understands things others can’t even see.
The Murrys are a family of unique and amazing minds capable of tremendous advances in science and communion with incredible beings from outside our general understanding of time and space.
I devoured A Wrinkle In Time and its sequels. I felt like the books were written for me. Sometimes I thought that maybe I was Meg Murry. When I put down the book, I’d awake in its pages, travelling across the universe by tesseract with Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which.
The fact alone that there was a science fantasy adventure novel that featured a girl as one of the main characters was transformative for me. But Meg Murry—Meg with her intelligence, insecurities, and deep thoughts—she meant everything. Because for the first time in my life, I had found myself in the pages of a book.
Many years later, Meg was with me when I wrote Bounders, the story of the first class of cadets at the EarthBound Academy for quantum space travel, a group of neurodiverse kids who always felt different but never suspected they were the key to saving Earth. I wrote Bounders for my oldest son who had just fallen in love with books. I hoped he might find himself in its pages, just like how I met Meg.
Bounders was published almost a year ago. Over the last several months, I’ve received lots of letters and emails from young readers. Some of them have told me how much they identify with one of my characters. These are my happiest and proudest moments as an author.
There are few things as special as a child finding herself within the pages of a book. As authors, as teachers, as parents, as people, we should all work to help children make that connection and experience that communion.
I know that amazing feeling of finding myself in a book. I remember. I will always remember meeting Meg Murry.
Monica Tesler is the author of the Bounders series, a five book science fiction adventure series from Simon & Schuster. The second title in the series, The Tundra Trials, released on December 13, 2016. The first book in the series was released in paperback with the episodic title Earth Force Rising on the same date. Monica lives outside of Boston with her husband and their two boys.