It must be the right time for me to work my way through those books I should have read as a kid but didn’t. This time it is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
“Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything,” Mrs Whasit explained earnestly. “We tesser. Or you might say, we wrinkle.”
I think many people are already familiar with this book. Meg Murry lives with her mother, twin brothers and baby brother Charles Wallace. Their father is gone, no one knows where, but outside the family, people think he abandoned them–Meg knows better though, she just doesn’t know where he is or when he will come home. Then Mrs Whasit and Mrs Who enter their life, followed by a new friend, Calvin and later Mrs Which. Together they will travel through space and time to find Meg and Charles Wallace’s father and will confront IT– an enemy more powerful than any they have encountered in their young lives and will discover the way to defeat him and the evil he represents and reunite their family.
This book was very different from a lot of young adult novels, at least for me, because of the space travel. I liked the focus on science and that the protagonist was a young girl interested and good at both math and science. The characters were also pretty interesting; Mrs Who and Mrs Whatsit definitely added a dash of fun especially early in the novel.
It was interesting that after the kids saw IT through the Happy Medium’s crystal ball that Mrs Whatsit told them that many were working to fight IT and that the best fighters came from Earth, beginning with Jesus. She went on to say that our artists were lights to see by and the kids started to name people from Michaelangelo and Shakespeare to Rembrandt and St. Francis. Individuals who bettered the world through art, literature, science and religion. It is the individual who contributes to their society and the fight against conformity is key in this novel.
In some ways I was reminded of The Giver because of the dystopian image of a society so structured that no sickness or pain was allowed to be seen. As if by not allowing others to see pain or unhappiness it will prevent those in that society from suffering. As Meg points out, just because they aren’t suffering doesn’t mean they are happy.
My copy of the book has An Appreciation by Anna Quindlan at the beginning which addresses the cold war influence. She says “The identical houses outside which identical children bounce balls and jump rope in mindless unison evoke the fear so many Americans had of Communist regimes that enshrined the interests of state-mandated order over the rights of the individual.” And, embracing your individuality together with the power of love is just what is needed to defeat the enemy.
I liked this book. I saw it as a journey to self discovery; a novel about accepting yourself and facing your fears as well as about the importance of family. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as a kid, so now really was the right time for me to read this.