I'm going to start by saying, this isn't a real book review. I adore this book. Somewhere I have a copy with cover pictured above. it's not in near as good of condition. I wish I could find it to show you.
In case you aren't familiar with the story, it actually begins with the words: It was a dark and stormy night.
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."
A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem
The opening sentence of the foreword by Anna Quindlen in the most recent edition is a perfect summary: The most memorable books from our childhoods are those that make us feel less alone, convince us that our own foibles and quirks are both as individual as fingerprints and as universal as an open hand.
I have a special relationship with this book. The summer I turned nine years old, my world disintegrated into chaos. I don't mean regular little kid chaos. I mean the kind that makes the evening news chaos. That was followed by the death of my grandmother (who I loved more than I could ever explain.) The grand finale was my mother and I packing everything we owned, leaving the only place I remembered living, and moving two states away. I started fourth grade in a completely different world.
We were surround by family, but I didn't know any of them. Several of my cousins went to my new school, but I'd never been around them before. And they, as well as several other people, made fun of my Texas accent (which I have never lost) so I didn't really like to talk that much (for those of you who know me in real life, that is probably an earth-shattering declaration.) I also was in speech therapy which meant trekking across a street alone (it was the 80's. Kids did things alone. This would have never been allowed today.) from my elementary school to a room in the high school building, which was absolutely terrifying.
In a nutshell, nothing in my life at that point was secure or made sense. My mom was working two jobs. I often stayed with my great-grandma (who was a hoot), but when that wasn't possible a young student from the local bible college named Annette stayed with me.
Annette was studying to be a teacher. One of her assignments was to read a book aloud and discuss it with a young child. She chose A Wrinkle in Time and I qualified as the young child.
I know adults had read aloud to me before. There was the quite traumatic experience of my third grade teacher reading us Bridge to Terabithia. I'll save the one for another time, but here's a teaser: I was absent on the worst possible day for reading that book. Anyway, it wasn't that this was the first time I'd heard a book aloud. But this was the first time I remember someone snuggling in and reading a chapter book just to me.
It was amazing. Meg didn't quite fit into her world. I didn't quite fit into my world (an experience that I was wholly unaccustomed to). Meg's father was mysterious absent. My father was mysterious absent (though not so mysteriously to the adults, just like Meg.) She read a chapter or two a visit and we'd talk about it.
Then my mother and I moved again...and again. I have no idea if Annette ever became a teacher, and we didn't get to finish the book. Somehow I obtained my own copy of it after we ended up in Oklahoma. Either someone bought it for me or I purchased it at a book fair, I really don't remember. But I remember the comfort of reading it again and getting to finish it.
It's the first book I remember reading and reading and reading. I even read all the sequels, though I never developed the same fondest for them.
A Wrinkle in Time firmly held my number one spot as favorite book until Mrs. Moore, my sweet Language Arts teacher, handed me a copy of The Secret Garden, and said, "I think you'll like this."
She was right...about that and a lot of other things.
Last weekend, my family went into Barnes and Noble to stock up for the Thanksgiving break. I had intended to purchase a different book, but I saw A Wrinkle in Time sitting on a table. Just waiting for me.
it looked a little different.