“There was nothing left to hope for. She was frozen, and Charles Wallace was being devoured by IT, and her omnipotent father was doing nothing.”
In grade four, my teacher assigned a few of us to read this book, I think more than anything to keep us busy. We were pretty smart kids, and thus pretty bored kids. At the time, it seemed like a challenging read, which was, I believe, the point. Not that the story itself is difficult but the ideas within, based on complicated mathematics and the bending of time, weren’t so easy to grasp for a nine-year-old.
Unlike some of the books I’ve read, A Wrinkle in Time has entrenched itself pretty firmly in the canon of children’s literature, but I couldn’t remember details. Thinking on it before reading it once again, all I had to go on was a fragile framework of interplanetary travel and the flexible nature of time. Yet because it’s so iconic in a way, it felt remarkably familiar. Even while reading I couldn’t shake that feeling.
A friend and I once made up a word for a situation that you hadn’t predicted but didn’t surprise you when it happened, like if two of your friends started dating and there were no clues it was coming but once they told you it seemed so natural. I can’t remember the word now, but that’s kind of like what this book was like. I couldn’t remember what happened – that Meg’s father was missing and her mom made stew in the lab and Mrs. Whatsit stole the sheets from the Buncombes and Charles Wallace was a secret genius and they all drink cocoa at midnight in the midst of a raging storm, but once I read it of COURSE that’s how the story goes.
Things really get interesting when they take off to another galaxy with Calvin O’Keefe, who really just jumped right in to that family, in the hopes of rescuing Meg’s father. Only one detail of the story struck me with more than just a sense of familiarity but an actual recollection of ‘oh yes, I remember this!’ or so I thought. Turns out I ultimately confused the nondescript planet of the Happy Medium with the gray planet of Aunt Beast that would come later.
I don’t think of myself as much of a science fiction fan – I like some fantasy, and the lines can blur, but space travel and time continuum things aren’t always my cup of tea. Themes of love and humanity I can get behind though, so I’m still a fan of A Wrinkle in Time (which sidenote has probably the best title out of any book in this project so far). I’m not really that surprised that I had no specific recollection of Camazotz and the evils there, but the chapters I could recall with some clarity focused on Aunt Beast, and her fellow creatures that shared her kindness and compassion.
I also found the book very reminiscent of sci-fi-esque The Giver
, with the push for conformity as a path to/antithesis of happiness, depending on what side of the debate you’re on. As discussed in that post, I know my take. Both The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time remind me of one of my favourite literary quotations, not from a children’s book but also a horrible dystopian Brave New World
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”