An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

My dad once said to me, "You give a lot of books three stars." I do.

A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition

A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition - Madeleine L'Engle I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was twelve. But that’s impossible. I must have first read it when I was eleven. When I turned twelve, I was on vacation in Philadelphia with my parents. I had toted the other three Time Quartet books with me with the intention of finishing them all. So I must have read A Wrinkle in Time before then.I first read it with my Ama. She gave me a copy. You know the one, the pink Yearling edition. It’s nicer than the Bantam Books Mass Market Paperback with the black cover (the one that used to frighten me when I was nine). We read it together, out loud. She made me read the Latin and German and French bits out loud too. Never mind that no one speaks Latin anymore. Never mind that the only language I had studied at that point in my life was English. That must have been one summer when I on my yearly visit. But the summer I turned eleven we read Harry Potter. Has that memory eclipsed all the other books we read then? Did we also read A Wrinkle in Time that summer? Or was it the summer before, when I was ten? Maybe we didn’t read it in the summer. Maybe we read it one winter when we visited for Christmas… I can’t remember.The copy she gave me was signed. The words written on the title page read “for Alison – tesser well – Madeleine L’Engle.” What’s a tesser well? A well full of tesser? What’s tesser? I learned as we read, but I don’t think I understood any of it. I didn’t understand the tessering despite the pictures and descriptions in the books. But I came back to the book. At least twice. Probably more.As a child I would reread passages of favorite books over and over. I don’t explicitly remember doing this with A Wrinkle in Time, but now when I reread it, certain scenes stand out in my mind more clearly than others. The scene with the boy who doesn’t bounce his ball in time with the others is one. As are the first time Calvin, Charles Wallace and Meg battle IT and the chapter spent with Aunt Beast. I don’t know why these parts first stood out to me. But they did and now they still do.I also don’t know why I can’t remember how old I was when I first read it. Why do I tell myself I was twelve when that’s impossible? I don’t know. I think lots of things happened to me when I was twelve even I know they couldn’t have. Maybe I was twelve the first time I understood the book or the first time it became important to my life. Who knows?No matter what age I was when I actually read it for the first time – ten, eleven, twelve – it is a part of my childhood. And I have trouble looking at things from my childhood objectively. But I think most of you reading this will understand how that goes. My ability to judge it with a clear head is clouded by my love for it. But impartial thinking is overrated. Here are some of the reasons I love A Wrinkle in Time.The first reason is that it defies genre. In the best way possible. It’s coming-of-age. It’s an adventure novel. It’s sci-fi/fantasy with some religion thrown in. It’s a love story. It’s all of these things all at once, and it does all of them well.It’s challenging. The concepts are big: time travel, growing up, good versus evil. It’s full of strange quotes in foreign languages. But aren’t all great books like that? They leave the reader room to grow. Tolkien said it pretty well in his essay “On Fairy-Stories,” “Though it may be better for them to read some things, especially fairy-stories, that are beyond their measure rather than short of it. Their books like their clothes should allow for growth, and their books at any rate should encourage it.”It’s a great coming-of-age story. Meg grows so much. She learns how to accept help when she needs it (when she’s recovering with Aunt Beast), and how to rely on herself when no one else can help her (when she’s battling with IT). I love that her flaws help her; in the end, she triumphs because of them not in spite of them.The book is very readable and rereadable. Every time I read it, I find something new in it.Lastly, it has inspired other great works. In the introduction to the 50th anniversary edition, Katherine Patterson says Madeleine L’Engle helped inspire her as an author. Rebecca Stead’s novel When You Reach Me (a great read which made me understand time travel inasmuch as anyone can understand time travel) was partially inspired by A Wrinkle in Time. That’s only a small part of what I’m sure is a much larger legacy made up of people of all ages who read and were inspired by Madeleine L’Engle and A Wrinkle in Time.