A Wrinkle in Troubled Times

“But what's going to happen?" Meg's voice trembled. "Oh, please, Mrs. Which, tell us what's going to happen!"

"Wee wwill cconntinnue to ffight!"

Something in Mrs. Which's voice made all three of the children stand straighter, throwing back their shoulders with determination, looking at the glimmer that was Mrs. Which with pride and confidence.

"And we’re not alone, you know, children," came Mrs. Whatsit, the comforter.... "Some of our very best fighters have come from your own planet.”

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleRemember when we all got excited about Chelsea Clinton’s love for A Wrinkle in Time? There were good reasons for that, beyond the inherent awesomeness of any kidlit shout-out. We were excited because the book felt apt, because the idea of Meg Murray — someone bookish, female, and not too flashy — working with others to get things done sounded happily familiar.

I was with Meg. I’m still with her.

But Madeleine L’Engle’s novel doesn’t just place someone admirable yet humanized on the side of good. It also offers thoughts on evil, which Meg and friends observe threatening to consume their beloved planet. Evil is powerful, but it can be overcome through strength and sacrifice, and in fact, someone like Meg can rescue her father from “a planet that has given in” to it.

Opinions may vary on whether we’ve seen evil recently, but, well, this post was almost a parody of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It seems a whole lot of people have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. November 8th was, as Wrinkle might put it, a dark and stormy night. The hard part to accept is that our nation itself has created the storm.

Mrs. Whatsit, one of Wrinkle’s most eloquent characters, compares free will to a sonnet: “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” The electoral college system has guidelines so rigid that they make iambic pentameter seem like free verse, but a lot of things can be said within it. The system was there, and choices were made within that system.

And now, we can keep making choices within the circumstances at hand. We can choose, as Roger says, to be the helpers.

Some of the best ones have come from our own planet, after all.

Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees.

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Thank you, Barbara! Here's hoping that things become less distressing soon.

Posted : Nov 14, 2016 07:52

Barbara Lucas

I'm pleased that your wonderful mother shared your comments with me at a troubling time. I have had a surplus of distress since Tuesday night.

Posted : Nov 12, 2016 02:42



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