My Favorite Book Ever?

Hey, guys. So, um, Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time has been on my mind lately for a few reasons.

1) I was asked on a lit class application to name my favorite book of all time. I don’t have one. But under pressure to name one, I’ll always say A Wrinkle in Time. Why? Because I’ve read it so many times I can recite large chunks of it and give disturbingly detailed synopses of the rest. Because I bought the audiobook on a whim years ago, and it’s still the only audiobook I can listen to. I literally fall asleep to that audiobook, narrated by the author. Because despite scientific advancements, I still automatically say the fourth dimension is time and the fifth, a tesseract.

2) As mentioned before, I listen to the audiobook every night as I fall asleep. It’s familiar, and it’s like a bedtime story, with the benefit that I already know the end, so I needn’t stay awake to hear it.

3) Mainly, though (and this is causing extreme levels of jumping-up-and-down, squealing-like-a-schoolgirl joy for me), I’ve been thinking about A Wrinkle in Time because the fiftieth anniversary of its initial publication is upon us, and they’re releasing a NEW COMMEMORATIVE EDITION. In case you didn’t catch that, A NEW COMMEMORATIVE EDITION, guys!!!!!!!!!

This excites me to no end. I have not been this excited since I went to see RENT live–two years ago.

As I mentioned earlier, A Wrinkle in Time is my default favorite book. I first read it in the fourth grade, undoubtedly due to pressure from my mother, an avid reader and teacher. I think I had a library copy. In fact, I’m pretty dang sure it was this edition:

That’s right, I remember the edition.

So, fourth grade puts me at…nine? Ten? I didn’t fully grasp the concept of the tesseract (not that I do now), nor did I fully understand the Mrs. W’s, IT (a giant brain? Huh?), Camazotz, The Happy Medium, Aunt Beast…well, about half the book sailed over my precocious little head (“How can they be STARS? What’s a happy medium?”). And, looking back, I’m pretty sure I skimmed most of the section on the planet of Ixchel.

But I loved Meg. I loved that someone clumsy and snarky (I hit my “teen” attitude early)  could be a heroine. I loved that she was tough and got in fights to defend her honor and her “dumb baby [brother’s].” I adored Mrs. Whatsit’s eccentricities, Mrs. Who’s quotes, and Mrs. Which’s commanding drawn-out speech. I liked the precocity of five-year-old Charles Wallace, even when he sat in the kitchen in his “faded blue Doctor Denton’s,” his feet not touching the ground. I especially liked that Calvin O’Keefe, the big athletic star, was, in all honesty, kind of a dork.

Well, I checked that book out of the library so often, I might have thought I owned it at one point. Until I got my own copy a year later, after recommending it eagerly to my stepmother. That was also the year I bought the audiobook, both this edition:

Well, okay, I think I went through two copies of that edition. I read it so often, carried it with me to so many places, that it got a little…well-loved (re: beaten). So I probably went through two copies, grasping a little more each time (Although I still didn’t really get what the heck a happy medium was).

And then in eighth grade, two things happened at once. (1) My boyfriend told me that it’s called science FICTION for a reason (I may have cried a little), and (2) I loaned out my copy of A Wrinkle in Time to someone whom I never saw again.

So, in the middle of ninth grade, I went to Target and bought myself a shiny new copy. This  one.

Yeah, it’s a little bruised, a little bent at the corners, maybe even a little water damaged. There are scuff marks on the edges. It’s well-loved. And I can still recite large passages of it.

Of course, several re-reads after that first time in fourth grade, I understand more. I’m absolutely blown away by L’engle’s creatures on Ixchel, who intimately know the stars and the sun without seeing them, who encourage Meg to think of what things are, rather than what they look like (major theme alert!). I’m amused by the wordplay concerning the Happy Medium (remember when Meg’s brother Sandy tells her to “use a happy medium, for heaven’s sake”?), and I cheerfully report that I now understand the concept of a happy medium. I recognize Mrs. Who’s need to quote because it’s so much easier to use other people’s words, and I see it in myself (by the way, my favorite Mrs. Who quote? “‘Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point.’ French. Pascal. ‘The heart has its reasons, whereof reason knows nothing.'” p42). I admire Mrs. Murry’s dedication to her family and her husband, and her willful ignorance of small-town gossip.

One passage that has always struck my fancy is the passage in which Calvin decides to quiz Meg to test the limits of her genius, and quickly discovers that the limits are clearly drawn. And Mrs. Murry helpfully supplies, as only a mother could, that Meg still plays with her dollhouse. It’s sharply written, and who is this girl that can rattle off Einstein’s equation and what it really means, but can’t tell us who wrote Boswell’s Life of Johnson, because she isn’t any good at English.

I love this book. So so so so much. And will I be buying a fiftieth anniversary commemorative edition, meant to usher in a new generation of readers?

There’s no question.

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