Monday, October 18, 2010
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
I figure the only way I'm going to hit my goal of 150 books this year is to start reading a ton of children's literature! So, while perusing my mom's shelves this past weekend, I decided I'd go back and reread this classic from my childhood. The last time I read this book, I was about nine years old. I don't remember a single thing about it, except that I really enjoyed it. This is actually the first in a series of four books about the Murray family (she then went on to do write another series about the second-generation O'Keefes). Meg Murray, the primary protagonist of the story, is a high-school teenager who doesn't quite in with her peers, and is seen as a troublemaker by her teachers. Her parents are both physicists, and her father mysteriously disappeared years earlier while experimenting with time travel. With the help of some strange little women, Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their neighborhood friend Calvin travel throughout the universe on a quest to rescue Meg's father. While I appreciate any book that features a young female character, I found Meg incredibly whiny. I don't recall having a negative reaction to her as a kid reading this book though, so perhaps L'Engle actually portrays her in quite a realistic light from the perspecive of a child reader (I was reminded of watching "Star Wars" years after it came out and being surprised to find that I could not stand Luke Skywalker's whining). I did, however, love five-year old Charles Wallace - seen as slow by folks who don't understand, but possessing a unique intelligence and ability to empathize and understand others. While this book is filled with strange planets and seemingly tricky physics concepts, the plot itself is actually quite simple - and predictable. I was a little taken aback at the overt Biblical references and quotations throughout the novel - and read up to find out that this is one of the most frequently challenged books by conservative Christians because of its apparent "liberal" Christian viewpoint, and its inclusion of characters resembling witches and the use of a crystal ball. I think I was surprised that a book with any type of religious theme would be so common place in public schools. Given the popularity of the series, however, and the fond (if not specific) memories I have of it as a child, I plan to read all the books in the series - but as an adult, I'm not quite sure I understand what the hype is all about.