Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time - 5/35

A Wrinkle in Time is weird. For starters, how do you even classify it? Coming of age novel? Yeah, there's a good bit of that. Meg Murry is one flawed character, and I love her for it, always have since I first read the book back in grade school, and her character development is great. Quite realistic, since she'll learn something and then forget it or be too impatient to put that lesson into practice and end up having to overcome that fault yet again. Who among us hasn't experienced that? This girl is incredibly flawed. She's awkward, a bit of a delinquent, a bit of a drama queen, but she's utterly endearing at the same time. Determined and pessimistic in equal measures, impatient, loyal, smart, dense, just a really human mix of traits. So really, a good bit of the book is about her growing as a person. But this is not a coming of age novel. So maybe it's science fiction. Tesseracts, dimensions, traveling through space to alien planets. All hallmarks of sci-fi. But, well, maybe I haven't been reading the right science fiction, because literary allusions and Christian imagery don't seem very scientific. Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which may technically be aliens, but they're never presented in that light, seeming to be more beings of magic and faith than anything. Really, the religious themes running through L'Engle's books makes a good case for Christian fiction. But again, to pigeonhole the book into that genre is to ignore all of the other wonderful elements.

This is a book that breaks the mold. It combines genres in a joyous journey across time and space on a quest for something as simple as one girl's father and something as heavy as the fight of good against evil. It's a children's book that does not talk down to children, explaining the more complex concepts in the narrative but not spoonfeeding them to the reader. And plenty of the literary allusions and name-drops I didn't even get until I was an adult. (To me, Ariel was always a mermaid; what middleschooler knows The Tempest?)

A Wrinkle in Time
is always a joy to read, a return to a warm world of knowledge and family and the triumph of good over evil, even if the world seems cold and petty at times, even if it's hard to fight the good fight.

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