I didn’t read much as a child. Hell, I didn’t even read Harry Potter till far later. But, call it fate or happenstance, I did read a little bit, and came across a certain spectacular title: A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle’s multi-award-winning children’s novel about all aspects of love, not just the romantic ones.
I first read this book when I was going through a particularly awkward growth spurt. This was also during the same year I learned that televisions were allowed to go flying off the wall in anger, and shouting could easily turn into waterworks. This book helped me escape a reality I wasn’t too happy with, and was probably the only book I read that year, but it helped me along just fine.
In A Wrinkle in Time, regardless of our age, once we begin following L’Engle’s entrancing words we fall into this fantastic world of skepticism, where old ladies were magical creatures in disguise, and characters like Meg and Charles Wallace Murry are right beside us, leading us along with their crazy time travel adventure.
Prior to the start of the story, the scientist Dr. Murry disappeared under mysterious circumstances. After some time, Meg had come to believe that her father had simply left his four children and their smart, innocent mother. When a passing visitor mentioned her father and the chaotic scientific concept, “the tesseract,” Meg, Charles Wallace, and Meg’s friend Calvin, chase after a trail that could lead the Murry kids to their missing father. With the help of three supernatural old ladies, the children travel throughout space and time, encountering all sorts of creatures from angelic centaurs to floating, super-intelligent brains, in order to rescue their father.
In a way, it’s a straightforward tale about kids saving their dad and good versus evil. But at the same time, it’s not—it’s so much more.
The main protagonists are a trio of misfit kids, on a fun and dangerous journey where their courage was repeatedly tested. As children or adult, it’s difficult not to find an empathetic connection for these genuine children, who had faced bullying and brutal lies regarding their missing dad, just go on a desperate journey to look for him. It tugs at the heart.
When reading A Wrinkle in Time, I felt like I was watching an 80’s family adventure from Steven Spielberg or Chris Columbus (examples: E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Gremlins, and The Goonies). It was immersive, exciting, tense, and filled with hope, with this innocent childhood glory, this awesome wonder, and love. I was rooting for the children, gripped with fear when a potential adversary makes a move, and wildly optimistic for the protagonists’ sakes and my own inner child’s.
At the core of it, A Wrinkle in Time was a conversation about love—a very quiet, intimate conversation. L’Engle didn’t just tell us about the other kinds of love aside from romantic love. She showed it to the reader. Through the experiences of the Murry family and Calvin’s interactions with them and their journey through a strange world to save their father, it was all to show us the things we’d think, feel, say, or do for the people we love. The children learned of sacrifices and overcoming fears, lies and forgiveness, and the deep affection of familial love throughout the winding twists and turns of the story.
Ultimately, A Wrinkle in Time was a fun and entertaining childhood read that struck close to the heart. There were instances where L’Engle’s Christian influences were apparent in the story, but the virtues and themes she played with were so universal that regardless of religion or belief they still apply and make you feel. It was a touching, empowering story about love, and I remembered it made me feel more courageous about loving my family, and even my stupid little brothers.
The novel is also on several banned books list, but all good stories seem to take that trend. Either way, A Wrinkle in Time warrants a good read for the young or old.
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“Love. That was what she had that IT did not have.”