A Wrinkle In Time (Madeleine L’Engle, 2007) – The arrival of a stranger brings Meg Murry and her little brother Charles Wallace on a hopeful journey in search of their missing father.
Mainly written for the young ones, A Wrinkle in Time presents a meaningful and admirable parable of complex themes that go beyond faith.
Like all stories of hidden portals and doorways, A Wrinkle In Time begins with a young child brimming with curiosity. Siblings Meg Murry and Charles Wallace make two. And so it begins, as the unexpected arrival of a peculiar visitor brings them on a fantastical adventure of self-discovery.
Through wardrobes or disappearing brick walls, hidden worlds structure the vertebrae of the genre, which may seem ho-hum to avid fantasy readers today. Yet of outcasts and scientifically-inclined heroines, the tale remains as captivating as any, especially for the younger readers.
A mirror of the teenage psyche, the protagonist Meg is emblematic of familiar themes. She is a stranger in a strange place, learning to embrace and redefine her faults.
“‘Maybe I don’t like being different,’ Meg said.’But I don’t want to be like everybody else either.'”
Shunned by those around them, the odd quirks of Meg and Charles turn out to be their covert strengths. The juxtaposition against their twin siblings, who characterised ordinary, made it especially interesting.
Another hidden world is revealed in their fortuitous companion Calvin, who overcome dysfunction in unseen abuse. This however, is never explored further than a mere mention.
Apart from meaningful back stories in its characters, the book is an admirable feat achieved back in a more conservative decade. In her unique telling, Madeleine L’Engle allows her faith to guide a journey based on pragmatic physics, though never quite leaning towards either end.
Blending spirituality and science in her fantasy classic, the largely controversial move risks aversion by both camps back in its time. Even today, uneasiness deters the more conservative crowd.
“I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”
But despite few heavy-handed segments, worry is mostly unwarranted for the faithful and faithless alike. Allegories far exceed religious faith, as the parable proves most universally relatable in its characters’ familial affection. While lacking subtlety makes it difficult to ponder upon, the easy read makes great food for thought among younger readers.