I tried to read A Wrinkle in Time as a kid. I checked it out from the library along with my weekly stack of Nancy Drews, but I couldn’t get into it so I abandoned it in favor even more adventures of my favorite sleuth. I never really thought about it again until When You Reach Me won the Newbery and everyone was all excited about it and how it was related to Wrinkle, but I didn’t get it and felt very out of the loop. Two years later I finally decided to give Madeline L’Engle a whirl again. I don’t like to let a book beat me, even if it has been 20+ years since I last picked it up. This time I went for the audio version since it’s read by the author and I am a sucker for audiobooks read by the author.
It was fine at first. Sure, Meg’s a little whiny, but she’s at that age, and I can forgive her for it. It’s probably a realistic picture of that stage of life. Lord knows that my awkward phase that lasted for YEARS. Sometimes I think that I’m still in it. I can certainly relate to being the nerdy girl in glasses in class. Yada yada yada, Meg is sulky, yada yada yada, Charles Wallace is a special kid, yada yada yada he makes friends with some quirky old ladies who take them time traveling. This was all fine. And then they get to the first stopover planet and Mrs. Whatsit turns into the most beautiful creature you can imagine, and the natives are singing the most beautiful music that they’ve ever heard, and the beautiful magic flowers help them breathe in the thin air………………. I was done. Seriously, if this had been in the slush pile, I would have rejected it the second that Mrs. Whatsit transformed into the indescribably wonderful whatever she is. Saccharine doesn’t even begin to describe it. I didn’t listen to any more for at least a week because I couldn’t get up the energy for any more beautiful sadness. Finally I decided that I couldn’t quit on this a second time. Then the book really does win, and I can’t lose to a book. Also, I needed to see what all the fuss was about, so I girded my loins and soldiered on.
Surprisingly, it got better. Once they finally got to the planet where her dad was captive things really picked up. There was a Brave New World quality to this planet that I enjoyed. (You all know that I love a good dystopian.) Naturally, the kids have to go in alone without their protectoresses. Naturally Charles Wallace does not heed their advice and becomes ensnared in the worldwide hypnosis. Naturally they leave him behind and Meg has to go back alone to get him back. The whole thing is very predictable, and the LOVE CONQUERS ALL theme is a smidge heavy-handed. I think that I missed the window for maximum enjoyment, although I don’t know what that window is since I didn’t finish it as a kid and wasn’t in love with it as an adult. The important thing here is that I finished and therefore I WON.