Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

The Medium lost the delighted smile she had worn till then. "Oh, why must you make me look at unpleasant things when there are so many delightful ones to see?"Again Mrs. Which's voice reverberated through the cave. "Therre will nno llonggerr bee sso many pplleasanntt thinggss too llookk att iff rressponssible ppeoplle ddo nnott ddoo ssomethingg abboutt thee unnppleasanntt oness."
I loved this book when I was a kid--I read it over and over so often that I felt like I lived in it, especially the opening chapters in the Murry household. Like Calvin, a classmate of Meg Murry's, I felt like I'd found my place in the world: "I've never even seen your house, and I have the funniest feeling that for the first time in my life I'm going home!" The Murrys live in a rambly old house: Meg, the misfit, only understood by her mother and her brother Charles Wallace, and Sandy and Dennys, the "normal" athletic twins. Their mother, an absent-minded scientist who balances motherhood and research by making stew over bunsen burners in her lab, seems to delight in her children's oddities, especially Charles Wallace and Meg's. It's the family that every nerdlet longs for except, of course, that Meg's father is missing. Charles Wallace, Meg, and their new friend Calvin form a little triad of weird and together with Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which they travel across the universe to save Mr. Murry. 
Tessering explained by Mrs. Whatsit
A Wrinkle in Time held up better than I expected. It's full of powerful, smart (scientist!), female characters, and the science fiction part of the novel doesn't come off as cheesy or overdone as I expected, although the light vs. dark dynamic is a little on the nose throughout; the evil force threatening the universe is a dark shroud, and the good guys are shrouded in light. The physics of space travel is clearly written, and the novel has the neatest explanation of wormholes ("tesseracts" in this novel) that I've read. I understand physics now!

I bristled a little at how Calvin, Charles Wallace (even as a much younger brother), and Mr. Murray each try to protect Meg: "Calvin walked with Meg, his fingers barely touching her arm in a protective gesture." I would read this as a budding romance, except it happens with her father and her younger brother throughout the novel. Meg, despite being brilliant, still comes off as a little helpless, reliant on the men who surround her to pull through. That being said, for a young adult novel written in the early 60's, it has far more impressive women than I'm used to. 

Overall, this definitely bears revisiting if you haven't read it in a while, and it absolutely is worth picking up if you never have. 

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Big one in my childhood too. How stoked are you for the Ava DuVernay film?