So dear readers, we’ll begin with a poem I wrote a few weeks ago, and then I’ll begin to tell the story of how Madeleine L’Engle’s novels took care of me emotionally when I felt odd, ignored, or merely unacknowledged:
And we are the fuck ups, (or so we think anyway) 3/25/2013
CLASSIFIED for reasons unknown… and yet do we even want to know or care;
UNDELIVERABLE because we can’t begin to share these bits of ourselves…
They live deep within us, these
TOP SECRET(s) that we fear, yet wonder if people will understand or want to join this secret club, the one where we acknowledge that the world is fucked!
[And we are not!]
I can’t remember the first time I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. It was sometime in the middle of elementary school because I read all of her young adult novels that I could find in the public library by the time I finished middle school, which would have included the Time Quartet (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time — interestingly enough, this collection contains five books, instead of the expected four titles) and her stories about the Austin Family. I just remember devouring my pink 1970s era paperback version and realizing how much L’Engle understood me, later on realizing that there were others like me (much, much later, dear readers).
It was so comforting to read about a heroine who was smart and kind, but couldn’t seem to find her place in the universe, so she was drifting through school feeling utterly purposeless. I’m grateful that I had teachers who encouraged my voracious reading. I’m still not entirely sure how I heard of A Wrinkle in Time (henceforth referred to as Wrinkle), but who knows, it may have been through one of them. Since then, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read the novel. I even wrote my term paper during my sophomore year of college about its spirituality and in Wrinkle, how G-d’s love reaches the depths of creation.
It’s funny, I guess that of all the novels in the bookstacks, I fell in love with Wrinkle, a novel with a strong female heroine not too different from myself. My therapist says I probably picked the best possible book to escape to when things at home were hard. We’ve had entire conversations using L’Engle’s novel as an anchor, trying to decide together how being socially different can be a strength. Books show us parts of ourselves we didn’t even know existed. Wrinkle did that for me and continues to do that for me every time I read it. Last week, I finally finished reading Hope Larson’s graphic novel adaptation of Wrinkle, and it is lovely. I get the sense that Larson loved the book as a child and when she became an artist, she wrote this adaptation as a 392 page love letter to Madeleine L’Engle.
Thank you Madeleine L’Engle for writing about a young woman like me in a time when publishers thought readers didn’t care about womyn science fiction protagonists. Also, to you, Hope Larson, thank you for sharing your love for A Wrinkle in Time with me, via gorgeous pictures and recreated prose.
So I’ll leave you with a quote from the 1962 novel and a scripture L’Engle lovingly borrows to remind us how strong people like Meg truly are: “Love. That’s what she had that IT did not have… And she had her love for them…She could stand there and love Charles Wallace” (L’Engle, 1962, p. 207-208).
“God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)