This collection of short stories traces an emotional arc inspired by the A Wrinkle in Time author's early life and career, from her lonely childhood in New York to her life as a mother in small-town Connecticut.
Taken together and arranged largely chronologically (both in terms of when they were written and the protagonists’ advancing ages), the stories are more postcards from a writer’s beginnings and her artistic, spiritual and emotional evolution than full-fledged narratives in their own right ... In some stories, the philosophical and uncanny are tethered to the ocean and the cosmos. Some of the earlier stories read more like fragments and incidents than complete narratives. In L’Engle’s parlance, they appear to the reader like stars. They flicker, not fully visible, but stirring nonetheless ... reflects not only L’Engle’s growth as a writer but her search for her own personal philosophy, one that ultimately recognized opportunity and authenticity in nonconformity. When encountered in this particular moment, her comfort with duality — with writing for children and adults, joining realism and fantasy, science and theology — evokes nostalgia for a time when science and religion were not so regularly and blatantly weaponized for political ends. The label of 'New Age' be damned, L’Engle shared with her readers her great capacity for wonder, and her refreshingly earnest desire to tunnel deep inside the human heart and expose its power to generate and regenerate hope and love — even in the face of eviscerating darkness.
... offer[s] sharp slices of the midcentury American zeitgeist, when certain possibilities for women were just beginning to open up. L’Engle here enters the territory of such masters of the form as Alice Munro, John O’Hara and John Cheever ... Some of the stories are so affecting that it is surprising they did not find publication in L’Engle’s lifetime ... many people may think of L’Engle as a children’s author or a science fiction writer, or both. The engaging stories in The Moment of Tenderness collectively offer a different, fuller view of this talented master.
While L’Engle didn’t intend these stories to unite in a single collection, they feel bound together by her unique and powerful tone, which seems to split her characters wide open to expose their raw humanity and allows one story to effortlessly flow into the next ... Fans of A Wrinkle in Time and other L’Engle favorites will find in The Moment of Tenderness something new ... While they lack a certain whimsy one may expect from L’Engle, these stories are lovely in their own right. There is beauty in their simplicity and intrigue in the depth of the characters’ pain — feelings that Voiklis writes should give us all a glimpse into some of L’Engles own struggles ... There is even wonder in the feeling of incompleteness that lingers at the end of many of the stories. Perhaps some were indeed incomplete, but perhaps L’Engle merely desired to produce slices of life, ones that do not offer exact answers or unrealistically neat endings.