The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli is a Newberry Medal winner from 1949. It tells the story of a boy named Robin who suddenly loses the use of his legs and how he finds his way in the Middle Ages. His father is at war and his mother attends the queen. As everyone around him dies in the midst of the Plague, he is taken in by a kindly monk named Brother Luke who has faith Robin will one day recover the use of his legs.
Robin’s greatest desire like most aristocratic boys of the Middle Ages was to become a knight. This dream is taken from him when his legs gave out. Halfway through the book, Sir Peter, the one who was to train Robin to be a knight tells Robin:
“Each of us has his place in this world. If we cannot serve in one way, there is always another. If we do what we are able, a door always opens to something else.”
Robin proceeds to do the job of a page as much as he physically can. Along the way, he learns woodworking and playing the harp. He learns to swim and play with other boys.
“We can only do the best we can with what we have. That, after all, is the measure of success: what we do with what we have,” Brother Luke tells Robin when Robin asks him if he thinks he’ll ever be able to straighten his back again. “It is better to have crooked legs than a crooked spirit.”
In the end, Robin saves the day by being able to sneak out of a castle that is under siege and go for help because he is infirm. He is rewarded by the King and accepted by his noble parents in an age where those with disabilities were ostracized. His life now has meaning once again.
So in the beginning, Brother Luke says, “Thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.”
And in the end, he says, “Thou hast found the door in thy wall.”
Great, historically accurate, encouraging book with a great message. If you keep looking, you will find your path in life. Never give up even in the darkest of times.