This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of a book that forever changed my reading experience: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Rather than write a review of this truly epic book, I will instead share my personal experience in reading this book.
It’s not often that I make this claim, but I sincerely believe that this book and I were meant to find one another. Over twenty years ago, I picked up and read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time. My main reason for picking it up was it’s status on several banned book lists. Never a true rebel, my rebellion was expressed through the reading of books banned from my own school library. These books include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1984, and many, many others.
The main character, Meg Murray was a fairly average little girl. Not overtly beautiful, but not hideously ugly either. She was an unremarkable girl who does something remarkable. For me, this character gave me the strength to never give up, to strive for my highest goals, to never give up. Meg used traits and gifts that she naturally possessed in order to save her father, and ultimately her younger brother, from the grasp of a dark being, referred to as IT. Let me tell you how huge it was for me, a shy, quiet, nerdy-girl to read a book like this. A book that wasn’t the typical (no offense) Sweet Valley High or Babysitter’s Club books that seemed to be the only books available for girls my age. I hungered for a book that was more than the light teen fare available at that time. A Wrinkle in Time was that book, a book that made me think, made me hope, made me dream.
A Wrinkle in Time also introduced me to the unknown world of science fiction. Who knew time travel could be so thrilling? A Wrinkle in Time was one of the few books in the science fiction genre featuring a strong female character, a trait I found rewarding as a young, shy girl. One of my favorite passages, by far, was one in which the children’s lives were compared to a sonnet: “A strict form, but freedom within it.” One of the adults within the story states: “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” This is a phrase that I have held dear my entire life, one that changed my outlook on life, giving me the strength and the power to rise out of my shell and assert myself.
Since it has been nearly two decades since I read A Wrinkle in Time for the first time, I gladly accepted a copy of the 5oth Anniversary edition for review. As soon as I read the first line (“It was a dark and stormy night”) I was transported to my youth, recalled reading this book, hiding under the covers, a small flashlight the only illumination that permitted me to read. I’m no psychic, but reading that first line, I knew I was in for a truly engaging read.
Reading this book again, over two decades later, I found myself reminiscing books like this, real coming-of-age books that have lasting impact. I can count on one hand books that affected me this profoundly. I wish I would have continued with this series and the characters that influenced me so greatly. While I missed out on this, I don’t plan on letting this happen with my boys. While they might not relate to the characters like I did, I do want to introduce them to the book and devour the series alongside them.
L’Engle’s story touched on issues I was ignorant of during my first reading; the symbolism she uses isn’t outright obvious but something I quickly picked up, reading as an adult: Good versus evil, freedom of choice, the beauty within. Never could I have imagined enjoying this book any more than I did as a child, but reading this book, as an adult, as a mother, I see a completely new beauty within.
Before I close, I’d be remiss not to mention some of the bonus materials contained within the 50th Anniversary commemorative edition of A Wrinkle in Time. They include:
• Frontispiece photo*†
• Photo scrapbook with approximately 10 photos*†
• Manuscript pages*†
• Letter from 1963 Caldecott winner, Ezra Jack Keats*†
• New introduction by Katherine Paterson, US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature †
• New afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Voiklis including six never-before-seen photos †
• Murry-O’Keefe family tree with new artwork †
• Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery acceptance speech
* Unique to this edition † never previously published
For more information about this special 50th Anniversary celebration, please visit the official A Wrinkle in Time Facebook page!
What book from your childhood was most memorable for you?