A timely wrinkle

Today I was with a group of people I’d never met before. One thing we all had in common was a love of science. As we talked, it gradually came out that we all had a particular cultural touchstone in common: Our love for A Wrinkle in Time.

In fact, we had all read it when we were little, and had been drawn by its mysteries into wanting to learn about math, science, physics, and all the various grown-up topics that Madeleine L’Engel ingeniously referenced in what was ostensibly a children’s story. At a moment when people are becoming very interested in all forms of virtual reality, her book seems especially relevant.

To me there was always something iconic about the scene where Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit demonstrate how the “wrinkle in time” of the title actually works — so clear and child-friendly, yet so deep in its implications. Looking now from the perspective of adulthood, I understand now that the story contains little actual science or math. It’s pretty much all suggested by metaphor.

But as a young boy, I became completely lost in the mystery and wonder of the Universe, as seen through the eyes of Meg and Charles Wallace Murry. Reading this book made me want to learn about science and math, so I could go on my own journey of mystery and wonder.

Which I think is a pretty good effect for a book to have on a child.

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