For a long time now, in this here galaxy, I have wanted to read A Wrinkle In Time.
And after Chelsea Clinton mentioned this book at the 2016 Democratic Convention, I figured the time for Time was now.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle and was published in 1963. It became an instant classic for young readers, and somewhat hotly debated as well. This first book of a multipart epic comes with a rather large family tree chart, so you know going in how massive this will become.
The story picks up with 13 year old Meg who feels awkward in life and slightly lost in her large family. Complicating matters is worrying about her scientist father, who has gone mysteriously missing.
Then one dark and stormy night (this is where that famous saying comes from), while talking to her scientist mother and supersmart little brother, she meets the strange new neighbours. This leads to a galactic quest, with her said younger brother, Charles, and a local teen boy named Calvin, that is facilitated by the neighbours.
They travel magically or by super science, take your pick, to other worlds and learn new things and face all sorts of dangers as they get closer and closer to the missing father.
A Wrinkle In Time is a young adult novel which very much feels like the time period it was written in. This is not a criticism, but this did not feel timeless like Margaret did.
One very important factor that does greatly elevate Wrinkle, and helps not making the material feel slightly less dated, is that the main character is Meg, the teen girl. Her courage and love and perseverance are what helps win the day, and for 1963 is quite refreshing.
What dates A Wrinkle In Time is the straddling of religion and science in virtually all aspects of this story. This constant theme was something that I knew would have been controversial at the time, and when I looked it up, was proven right.
The 1960’s new age hippie ideals of being religious, while still worshipping science, was a hot topic for many. The traditional versus the new. And A Wrinkle In Time while liberally mentioning God and faith and love, it also very much integrates regular science and at the time, and still is, theoretical science. L’Engle goes to great lengths to explain virtually all that is going on using very scientific concepts, heavily talked about by Charles and the otherwordly neighbours. But at the same time, faith is what helps saves the day. This delicate balancing act feels like trying to please two masters, if you are a pessimist, or bringing us the best of both worlds, if you are an optimist.
This hard to perform situation, in which I firmly believe L’Engle completely is into, and should be applauded for especially in 1963, means that if you are easily offended from either side, then you will be easily offended.
But taken from the context of society and religion and science of that long ago era, this duality makes certain chunks of A Wrinkle Of Time feel clunky at times. In fact, those parts come across rather lecturey to me.
Which brings up the weakest part, and the most 1960s society feel to it, is the Big Bad of the piece. Just slap “Evil Russian Overlord Mastermind” on him and call it a day. It is not murky in the slightest what L’Engle is getting at here.
While A Wrinkle In Time was not a youth book that resonated with me as an adult, I can fully see the appeal for the under 12 set. The philosophies and adventure would set off the thinking processes, which is always a good thing. Also, as I mentioned earlier, having the star of the story being an intelligent brave teen girl who saves the day, was revolutionary at the time, and would appeal to Hermione and Katniss fans today.
I am glad to have made the time to enjoy A Wrinkle In Time, but I am fine with not continuing on with the series.
…is currently reading Double Fudge by Judy Blume.