After the heavy reading of Winter, I decided on a whim to spend the $5.97 cover price for A Wrinkle in Time. I had not previously read this book. I was reminded of an Oprah interview in which she spoke about the movie project when I saw the trailer for it.
Like other Oprah selections, I was slightly un-enamoured. Primarily I think because of the reading level the same criticism I had when first reading Harry Potter. Yet, if anything, the criticism can hardly be considered a judgment. I clearly fall outside of the target audience by decades, to say I found it too simplistic would be unfair. As has so often been the case in our little group, reading this book connected me to two other people. A current work colleague Jillian who coincidentally also chose to procure this book during the Spring break and as a result was promptly invited to join us and my dear friend from my Religious Studies program at University who, like Oprah, loved it from the start.
The one thing I did find jarring was the liberal Christian elements. The inclusion of which wafting of indoctrination. I examined my discomfort with curiosity. I wonder if I would have been as critical of it if I had have read it as a child. Religion has always been a topic that drew me, yet my expectations of the conversation have been refined. I interrogate these themes now from a Religious Studies perspective and years of research. I was not surprised to find the author Madeleine L’Engle had received criticism over these elements and the book remains in the top 25 of the 100 most challenged books because of the direct references to Jesus Christ. On the flip side, being also problematic from a conservative Christian perspective because of the inclusion of occult features like magic balls bringing Harry Potter again into comparison.
Below is a submitted personal essay component I intended to enter into a journal on the book.
If I could travel through time and space I could take A Wrinkle in Time to my childhood self. My current form would be unidentifiable to that girl. To her I would be as a magical being coming into her world bearing a gift of a book – one filled with adventure and philosophy, beauty, passion and confusion. I never received those kinds of books. As annual prizes awarded for attendance or improvement, I would receive books about planes. Technical books I was not interested in then or now. Books given out of compassion and a misunderstood attempt to recognize my interests. They didn’t understand me tho. It wasn’t the plane that fascinated me. I simply, wanted to fly. If I had been given that book, how long would I have spent fantasizing about the world in which wondrous creatures dance and play in a beautiful meadow each day. Yearning with jealousy that I wasn’t able to ride them too?
Childhood me would be enthralled with my long hair, my piercing blue eyes, the color of hers. Would she see my feminine curves under the pretty dresses I wear each day and know that I was the kind of women she hoped to grow up to be? Would she suspect she was me? In her world the grown ups wore blue jeans. Dresses were for children, princesses and my grandmother who sewed the ones I wore. I would appear to her in Blue or green the same as her school uniform but my colors would be brighter, more vivid and alive than the worn cotton plaid of her yard dress. The soft lines of cloth hugging my breasts and waist would be a revelation against the straight A line of her homemade pastel dresses. Grandma’s eyes weren’t up to sewing darker fabric anymore.
The mission to save my father feels more real to me now that he has passed. I imagine him traveling through the cosmos. If planets don’t die, how could he? My omnipotent father is out there, that is a certainty. Without this magic my only hope is to wait. I don’t feel the need to go back in time. I have my own Charles Wallace now, he is also five. He comforts and protects me the way only a small child can. We have our own Calvin too. My Charles Wallace talks to him as if they share secret knowledge. Their mutual affection for me. Our journey has no destination beyond hope and promise where no promises need to be made. They speak together, “I am so sad for Mama, she cried two times today” Grief is powerful and I am blessed to have two pairs of hands to reach for when I am feeling alone or scared or simply can’t see what is before me. Arms that encircle me when it feels like I might fall. No, I didn’t get this book when I was nine. I didn’t read it until I was thirty-eight. And perhaps that is just fine.