And I saw This Book. I saw the cover – the children riding on the back of a rainbow-winged centaur – and I knew it was the book for me. I forget how much it cost, but I’m sure it was a quarter or less. And when I read it, I knew I had found where I belonged.
This has always been one of my favorite books, so when I saw a couple of versions for sale at BOOKMAN in Anaheim, I bought the exact same one that I had bought all those years back, even though there were copies in better shape. (Trust me. I’m rarely that nostalgic.)
This book brought tears to my eyes as I read it, because this is more than a favorite book: after all these years, this book is me. I have completely internalized this story, and I remember bits and pieces of it on a regular basis: IT, Charles Wallace, the man with red eyes (scariest villain ever), atoms shifting like the rice-bead curtain, life as a sonnet, Calvin the sport, even the sleek black dog Fortinbras. However, A Wrinkle in Time is never on Best Lists because it is a children’s book. A mis-justice to new science fiction readers. Everyone on the planet should know this story.
Wrinkle is also inspirational for me because of what Madeline L’Engle went through to get it published. It was rejected about 39 times before it found a home. Probably because it starts with “It was a dark and stormy night,” it unabashedly loves God and fights Evil, and the last chapter feels a tad rushed (or perhaps I just didn’t want the story to end).
As an aside, I love what my friend Tamlin said when I reminded her of this book. “I remember a scene in a kitchen, where all the family members loved each other.” There was magic and awe in her voice about a story about love, and she was absolutely right. This book is awe-inspiring.
As an added bonus, the lessons for writers are strong and beautiful. The lessons are ephemeral, yet pivotal: writing needs poetry, mystery, emotion, and danger. Quoting Shakespeare (The Tempest) and the Bible, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who are never completely explained, and the story takes us to both terrifying and transcendent places. Everything plays on Meg Murray like her heart is a violin. And this book is just like that: tremulous, heartful, magical, and resonant.