Photo: brainwise

My beloved fourth-grade teacher, Miss York, held my class in rapture as she read aloud a chapter of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time, every day after lunch. Later, I read it on my own, over and over, and devoured much of L’Engle’s other fiction. I met the Austins, I time-traveled to Noah and his infamous ark, I went up against an insane dictator.

L’Engle’s life–her family, her religion, her motherhood, her career, her writing decisions—have been subject to much speculation. Later in her celebrated, prolific career, she transitioned to writing about religion and family–more memoir, less fiction. But it’s her “children’s” books that remain the most popular. At Mental Floss, Jen Doll explores the magic of A Wrinkle in Time and its effects on the boundaries of genre and powerful women protagonists.

The reception of [A Wrinkle in Time] was far from universally positive, though. It was a weird mashup of genres combining science fiction with fantasy and a quest; a coming-of-age story with elements of romance, magic, mystery, and adventure. There’s a political, anti-conformist message, and at its heart is the importance of family, community, freedom of choice, and, most of all, love. In some ways, there was too much room for interpretation in L’Engle’s themes…

In these fantasy worlds, as in the real world, things can’t always be tied up neatly. Evil can never be truly conquered; indeed, a key to fighting it is knowing that. It’s a sophisticated lesson children thrill to, and one in which adults continue to find meaning.

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