A Wrinkle in Time is weird. It’s been very popular since Madeleine L’Engle (giving the late Ursula K. Le Guin a run for the name-pronunciation money) wrote it in 1963. Very soon it will also come out as a big-budget film, and I’m excited for that. Oprah is in the film, and Oprah’s never made anything I didn’t like; she’s a classy lady who knows how to pick and choose. On the topic of Oprah, I once read that she has her bed sheets changed every-other day. I don’t know if that’s true, but whenever Leah and I change our bed sheets I like to yell “Tonight we’re gonna feel like Oprah!” To me it’s a joke that will never get old.
I actually hate changing bed sheets. It’s probably a too-worn topic that fitted sheets are impossible to put on correctly, both the first and second time, but if I ever get rich I’ll pay someone to do all of the bed changing for me. Also, I’ll pay them to change the sheets every day, because new sheets really do feel great. But back to A Wrinkle in Time being weird. I have a very clear memory of trying to read it in the fifth grade and absolutely not getting it. I was an avid reader at the time, and this was my first real reading hiccup. And as an adult who recently finished it, I still don’t get how it won the Newbery Medal for children’s literature
L’Engle was rejected twenty-six times before her manuscript was accepted, and it think it’s clear why. The “novel” is more like a series of vignettes. It isn’t worth criticizing the different parts in great detail (any time you criticize YA fiction you risk sounding pompous) and I really think L’Engle scores perfect marks for “style.” However, she only makes it halfway to the finish line on “substance.” This reminds me of my favorite author, Stephen King, because as much as I like his stuff, I can admit that he often fails to clinch his endings. Anyway, all authors have their strengths and weaknesses, though isn’t the most related to why I think Wrinkle is an odd duck.
If you Google “Is a Wrinkle in Time…” it will autofill with “…a Christian book?” L’Engle doesn’t tell a tale that is obviously Christian, like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Yet Wrinkle isn’t anti-Christian, like The Golden Compass. This is a story where children are fighting a vague “Black Thing” that has enveloped Earth. It causes all evil, but it isn’t the devil. Yet God is in the story, with characters quoting scripture, and Jesus being placed alongside other “great artists” like Leonardo da Vinci and Einstein. It’s a stance that, as I read about it now, has angered the religious and non-religious alike, and that’s a rarer thing to do.
So is it a book worth checking out? I want to talk about unusual and interesting reads on this blog, and A Wrinkle in Time qualifies. Also, it’s short, so reading about children “tessering” to Ixchel and Camazotz won’t take up much of your time. Now, that is a weird path—this post I mean, going from Oprah to Wrinkle—and so I’ll have to bring it back. So on the topic of other hard names to say, did you know Oprah was actually born “Orpah,” taken from the Bible’s Book of Ruth? So many people mispronounced “Orpah” as she grew up, however, that she just switched her name to what people commonly said, with the “R” where it is now. And now you know.
–Jeff and Leah