A Wrinkle in Time has been my absolute favourite book since I was 12. I consider myself to be one of its founding fan club members, despite having no freaking idea that the book was just the first part of a series of novels.
Here’s a tiny summary. I emphasize the word tiny. Mr. Murry (Meg’s father) disappears into nothing one day when toying with the idea of a tesseract. A tesseract is a way to “wrinkle” the space-time continuum and essentially move great distances (and I’m talking about the distances between whole galaxies here) in a few seconds. Three other-worldly beings come searching for Meg, Charles-Wallace, her brother, and their new friend, Calvin. Together, they move through the Black Thing (cosmic evil at its finest) and enter the planet of Camazotz where they search for Mr. Murry. But things do not go according to plan. Not even remotely.
And end summary!
Usually, books-turned-movies aren’t quite my cup of tea, but in this scenario, I have the movie version to thank for finally realizing that there were books and not book.
A Wrinkle in Time came to me in a box of multiple novels sent over by older cousins. It was the first book I pulled out and despite being dog-eared and scribbled on, it had me at the first page. It was the first time in my life that I realized that books could actually change you. That they were capable of instilling new beliefs, new perspectives, and new ideas.
The book was the first one I ever came across with a strong female lead. Meg Murry is presented as a headstrong child with a stubborn tendency to resist authority simply for the sake of it. The book was written in 1960 and in this particular decade, a female, especially a girl, resisting authority was as far from being celebrated as possible. Meg was portrayed as struggling with the space-traveling aspect more than her companions. But the important thing is this: she overcomes it. Added to this her somewhat unbecoming appearance, Meg Murry is a girl written for the all the girls in the world who had far more to offer than just their looks.
I loved her immediately. I still do, really. I love how protective she is, how she pushes on relentlessly. How she loves despite not understanding. And though I absolutely loathed the subjects, Meg was great at science and math. Meg is just more. And as the heroine, she needed to be more. She rose to the occasion of saving her father and then her little brother. She showed me that girls could be more than just their assigned roles. Truly revolutionary to a girl who was constantly described as “chubby”, “fat” and “plain.”
I consider the book to be more forward-thinking than those of the present because it shows how strong females come from strong females. This isn’t your typical story of just one strong woman thriving in a sea of penises. Nope. Exact opposite.
Mrs Murry is an experimental biologist (what in the fuck even is that) who works mainly from home while taking care of the kids and keeping house. She’s brilliant. In the wake of her husband’s disappearance and the ill-mannered gossiping of the townspeople, she keeps her head held high and continues teaching and most importantly, living, for her children. She didn’t disappear into an emotional abyss; she didn’t attach herself to a slew of men. Nope, this badass stayed present and functional for her kids. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, it’s just a book! But think about it. Really consider how ground-breaking such characters are in the 1960s!
The remaining three female characters are Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which. Three inter-dimensional beings who were once stars. Yeap, actual stars that exploded and now spread their light through the Universe in different ways. The choice of putting these beings in the form of women shows how capable women are and how resilient and wise we can be. It shows courage and love and nurturing and all these great female qualities that were also combined with characteristics viewed as traditionally male.
I’ve read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle more times than I care to remember. I’ve read it as a child, a teenager, and an adult. And every time, I get something a little different from it. It’s a book that is worth getting your hands on and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
(Even if the movie was complete trash.)