It's hard for me to be objective about this book. I've read A Wrinkle in Time more times than I can recall, but can't recall when I last read it - I suspect it was at least twenty years ago, meaning it's been far too long. I decided that Banned Books Week 2010 would be a good time to reacquaint myself with a novel that I have frequently listed among my all-time favorites, although I was a little nervous - would it still have a spot on that list after I finished it?
I needn't have worried. This is a novel that never gets old, but it seems that as I've gotten older, I've found more ways to appreciate it. The story of a fairly ordinary family - well, both parents are brilliant scientists, the eldest child's a misfit, and the youngest is more than a little unusual, but they're fairly ordinary aside from that - and a very out-of-the-ordinary adventure, A Wrinkle in Time incorporates elements of science fiction and fantasy and considers matters of philosophy and morality, and is written with appeal to readers of all ages. While this book won the Newbery Award, Madeleine L'Engle said that she didn't intentionally write it for children; at any rate, she certainly didn't write it down to children.
There are many things I have always loved about this book. Meg and Calvin are two of my favorite characters in any fiction, but I think I've grown fonder of Meg's parents - both Dr. Murrys - since I last saw them. Charles Wallace, however, strikes me as more enigmatic than I remembered; he's not exactly convincing as a five-year-old, but I'm pretty sure he's not supposed to be. Parents are imperfect and fallible, and children struggle to figure things out, but even under great stress and strain, the love and respect between family members can help hold things together.
In the Author's Introduction to this edition of A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle says that "In the Time novels, Meg...asks some big questions. Many of us ask these questions as we're growing up, but we tend to let them go because there's so much else to do. I write the books I do because I'm still asking the questions." It's handling those Big Questions that have made this book a modern classic - faith and reason, individuality and community, Good and Evil - and kept it a fixture on the banned/challenged books lists. However, one thing that's never struck me as being in question - in this novel or in others by the author - is that religious belief and scientific thought can not only coexist, they can inform and reinforce one another.
Revisiting A Wrinkle in Time put me in mind of another novel I've grown to love that also considers the Big Questions and the relationship between science and spirituality, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. Seeing the commonalities between them may have made me love A Wrinkle in Time even more.