Sunday, January 20, 2008

Book Review: A Wrinkle In Time

I realize that many of the books I've been reading and reviewing lately are books that people read when they're in school. Sometimes I don't know how I graduated with so few literary essentials under my belt. It makes me think, "What did I learn in school?" However, I am wondering if it's not to my advantage that my school system failed me in this way. I think if I had read these great books as a student, I might not have appreciated them for the treasures they are. I might have read these books and perhaps even liked them, but I am certain that much would have gone unnoticed. As for the characters of these novels, would I have enjoyed them as I do now? Would I have admired them as I do now? Would I have recognized the authors' genius as I do now? Who knows?

I share all this because A Wrinkle in Time is a children's novel, and as I was reading I couldn't help but wonder if I had read it as a child, would have missed the point. It is a fine story, indeed. The plot alone is captivating and interesting and magical. But, there is much to discover beneath the surface. This fantasy fiction is rich with spiritual allegory, not to mention the Word of God itself. It is an examination of good and evil. L'Engle's interpretation of a place controlled by darkness baffled my imagination and compelled me to consider God the Artist, delicate and fascinating and fabulously unpredictable. Never before have I taken so much pleasure in the weaknesses and oddities and the humanness of people. Likewise, she invites us to imagine life without "darkness." All I can say is that her words paint a beautiful picture of love, a thing worth hoping for.

Whether you are a fan of fantasy fiction or not (I am not generally drawn towards that genre), the characters alone make this novel a worthy addition to anyone's library. The family of characters that L'Engle has created is the most delightfully awkward group of outsiders. Her characters are in many ways what we all try so hard to hide, but they are all the more precious for it, forcing the question...why are we so ashamed of our imperfections?

It is a charming novel, a great read no matter what your age. There are some (conservative evangelical Christians) who have questioned the book's value and fear its potentially harmful influence on young readers. I do not agree. A Wrinkle in Time poses amazing questions, stirs the imagination and provokes priceless conversation. Thank goodness, I am not alone. In 1963, A Wrinkle in Time won the John Newbury Award "for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."


Erin said...

Beautifully articulated, as always. I whole heartedly agree! I was warmed by the love her characters portrayed and the courage they showed.

Peter said...

Steph, great book! So my mother actually had my sophomores honors class read that book in high school and yes many people did not get much out of it, but I look back on it fondly because: 1-It was my mother's class, 2-It is so rich in metaphor, character, and plot. (It should also be noted that until about 2 or 3 years ago, this book was out of print) Glad you enjoyed it.