Author: Madeline L'Engle
Meg Murry is a troubled 14-year-old girl living in a small town. Hers is seen as the weird family with only her jock twin brothers passing as normal. Both parents are scientists and Dad has gone missing while on a mysterious mission. The story's most intriguing character is Charles Wallace, Meg's youngest brother, five years old with deeper connections to the broader universe than anyone understands. Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin O'Keefe, Meg's surprising new friend, encounter inter-dimensional travelers who lead them on an adventure to save the world and find Meg's father.
While I had forgotten most of the story, the part that I've always remembered is the explanation of the first five dimensions, including the tesseract which is crucial to the adventure. The book's only illustration demonstrates the fifth dimension with an ant and a piece of string. That picture is always my initial image when anyone starts talking about dimensions beyond the third.
Two lines from the book struck a chord with me in this rereading. After Calvin, popular at school but a misfit in his own family, is invited back to the Murrys' for dinner, he says, "I've never even seen your house, and I have the funniest feeling that for the first time in my life I'm going home!" Don't get me wrong, I had a very secure family life growing up but it took me a while as an adult to find home.
Later, when Mrs. Whatsit, one of the inter-dimensional guides, bestows her gifts upon the children to prepare them for the troubles ahead:
"Meg, I give you your faults."Meg's handy faults turn out to be stubbornness, impatience and other qualities that would have been deemed unladylike when the book came out in the early '60s. I love the idea of granting an insecure adolescent his or her faults. As adult authority figures, we often harp on the shortcomings of our young charges but their faults don't belong to us, they belong to them. Some faults are highly inconvenient to the bearers, to be sure. But those same qualities can prove to be strengths in the proper contexts.
"My faults!" Meg cried.
"But I'm always trying to get rid of your faults!"
"Yes," Mrs. Whatsit said. "However, I think you'll find they'll come in very handy..."
Again, I'm glad to have reread A Wrinkle in Time. I may give A Wind in the Door another try, too. As a kid, that was my least favorite of the series. Since my childhood, L'Engle added two more books to the Time series. I may check those out as well.