My high school best friend always had a stack of teen magazines. She would pick up Bop, Seventeen, YM, or Teen People at the Wal-Mart checkout, choosing according to who was running a cover story on N*SYNC. After flipping through to pull out posters of celebrities, we set out to find any and all quizzes in the magazine. Which Spice Girl are you? I didn’t listen to the Spice Girls, but I definitely had to know where I fit in with them. Of course nowadays, those quizzes are online. Whether via paper or BuzzFeed, the quizzes fill the same craving in us: to know that we fit somewhere, somehow because there is someone like us who is fitting in.
Teen years are when we start trying to find our place in this world. Where do we belong? What is our role? And that’s where we meet Meg, the main character of this month’s book, A Wrinkle in Time. She feels she fits neither with her family nor with her peers at school. Her baby brother Charles Wallace describes her as, “not really one thing or the other.” What do you think he meant by that?
I thought of us when I read that line. My culture and values are no longer like most Americans’. I don’t fit there like I used to. But I’m not Kenyan, either. I stick out like a sore thumb here, both physically and culturally. Neither this nor that.
The story opens in the home of the Murry family. Mr. and Mrs. Murry are brilliant scientists. She’s a biologist; he’s a physicist. Before the first page of the book, he was involved in some work for the US government and went missing.
Meg is the eldest child, who has just started high school. She is emotional, impatient, and opinionated. Charles Wallace is a precocious 5-year old prodigy who seems to be telepathic. Sandy and Dennys are 10-year old twins, average students and athletic. Calvin O’Keefe is a friend Meg and Charles Wallace meet on the day the adventure begins. It’s one of those friendships that just “clicks.”
The first 3 chapters introduce us, one-by-one, to the 3 Mrs. W’s. Each one digs us a little deeper into the plot, but also leaves us with questions. Don’t worry, though. They will all be answered in time.
Mrs. Whatsit appears to be an eccentric old woman. After an awkward first encounter, she drops a bomb in a seemingly off-handed comment to Mrs Murry, “Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.” It is late at night, and Mrs. Murry won’t tell the kids what it means yet.
Next we meet Mrs. Who, making ghosts out of bed sheets, just in case they need to scare anyone away from the haunted house. She speaks mostly in quotes because she’s not good at expressing thoughts in her own words. We get a hint of adventure to come when she tells the children that it’s almost time to help Mr. Murry.
Mrs. Which is usually seen as a shimmer of light. She says that she has a hard time materializing. Her speech is ddrraawwnn oouttt. I “hear” it ringing like a bell or echoing. The Mrs. W’s aren’t human. What are they?We leave the Mrs. W’s, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin on the planet Uriel at the end of this section. Mrs Whatsit explains how they got there, “We don’t travel at the speed of anything…We tesser. Or you might say, we wrinkle.” There is, however, no time to go into an explanation because Mrs. Which instructs her to show the children something.
One of the most beautiful passages happens on the way. They see creatures flying around, singing, and Mrs. Whatsit interprets the song with help from Charles Wallace. It is from Isaiah 42:10-12. It fills the children with pure joy and bolsters them for their first sight of The Black Thing. They see a shadow out in space, blocking out a section of stars. Calvin intuits that it’s evil, and that’s the only description we’re going to get for now. There’s an important point tucked into this experience. Praising the Father, recognizing his rightful place in the universe, gives us strength even in the face of evil.
There are so many great quotes in here. I love Mrs. Who’s quoting of philosophers and the wisdom of Mrs Murry. What stands out to you? What do you think of the Mrs. W’s and The Black Thing? Did you see either of the movies (the 2003 version https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0290382/?ref_=nv_sr_2 or the 2018 version https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1620680/?ref_=nv_sr_1) based on this book?
P.S. Next week, we’ll discuss chapters 5-8. Here’s the reading schedule:
February 12: Chapters 5-8
February 19: Chapters 9-12
February 26: We’ll preview our spring book!