A Wrinkle in Time / Madeleine L’Engle
My niece called me a few weeks ago very excited to talk about a book that she had just finished reading. Unfortunately, I missed the call. The message was difficult to understand, mostly because she was excited, talking fast, and using words that don’t usually go together in sentences. Once I realized she was talking about a book, I could figure out that she was saying A Wrinke In Time and A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
Since I’m a horrible person, I didn’t call right back. Actually, I wanted to reread the book before I talked to my niece. I haven’t read the book in decades. Unfortunately there are a lot of books out there that I know I’ve read but of which I have almost no recall. The nice thing about reading “kids” books is that they usually go quickly. So, I read the book.
In some respects, it’s a very simple story: Girl who doesn’t fit in finds kindred spirits, has to go on an adventure, fails (sort of), but triumphs after that crisis. It was written for a young audience and is fifty-three years old. I think it is a little dated, but I was still amazed by the book. What struck me the most was how Christian the book was! I wonder if this book would have been published today. How many sci-fi books are out there with angels singing hymns of praise to God?
A lot of people think extra-terrestrials would be proof that God doesn’t exist. I’m not sure exactly why. Because they aren’t in the Bible? I didn’t read Contact but I watched the movie and was intrigued by the faith/science discussions. My perspective is, “If they exist, wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if they believed in God, too?” And now I wonder whether Ms L’Engle’s book didn’t help me form that thought.
My other response to the book had to do with how evil is portrayed. The dark planet they visit to rescue the dad hasn’t fallen into chaos and disorder like you’d find in today’s post-apocalyptic stories. Instead, there’s supreme order. There’s sameness. There’s no individuality. Is this a reflection of the writer’s time? She would have experienced World War II, seen totalitarian states in action. The Cold War was in full swing. It’s chilling, really, her descriptions. The contrast between the dark world and the care of Aunt Beast further illustrates the difference between love and evil.
I wonder what my niece made of it all (I still need to return her phone call). I think we underestimate what kids can get out of stories, but I also hope that she’ll be able to come back to the book some day, as I did, and dig a little more out of it.