Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L'Engle

Once in awhile the stars will align, your dog will come when you call,  someone will let you have her parking space, your son gives you a hug, and your daughter says, "That was a really good book you gave me." Hmm. You try hard not to smile. Because she probably wouldn't want to hear how proud you feel about the fact that your girl's got some depth. Anyway, I picked up A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L'Engle as a small Christmas gift (almost selfishly) explaining it was one of those books that for years was on the "banned list." It might be fun to read together and find out why.

Wrinkle is an allegory, disguised as an adventure, with several layers of social elements to consider. First and foremost, we meet our social misfit and heroine -Meg Murry. While most of us have felt "different" at some time or another, Meg is brave enough not to deny who she is. So she gets in trouble a lot. From her troubled hearth, with a missing father, we are thrown into an adventure with a wild cast of characters including her brainy young brother, a charming schoolboy and three magical neighbors with the monikers of Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which. Don't worry about keeping them straight- the author is completely and wonderfully magical herself at creating her characters. I'd like to read a few passages again and study the art of L'Engle's writing - undoubtedly, the dialect of the dialogue helped, but I was truly taken in by some of the cast of actors. I found myself reading aloud  - as if I was in a play! And I had grown quite fond of Mrs Who and her ability to quote great men AND to traverse between languages.

Beyond the intriguing characters, the social commentary (especially in light of the time the book being written -1962) should stir some robust dialogue. As Meg is on the mission to save her father and brother, the tale leads us to question the convention of conformity and authority. How much is too much? Where do we draw the line? But there are so many other underlying issues to consider. Like when the group stopped at a peaceful planet and it occurred to Meg that on earth, the same beasts that nurtured her would have been shot without warning.

The ending is sublime. And as Meg has carried resentment because of her lack of convention, ultimately she has what it takes to be the heroine. But what's her secret weapon? I won't spoil it for you - you'll have to read it for yourself.

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