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Confessions of a Book Snob

Kerry Fiallo is a New York native and copywriter at Simon & Schuster. A lifelong voracious reader, she has a particular fondness for ghost stories, history, and anything to do with Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, and the Brontë sisters. The only thing she may love more than books is black tea, but they do often go well together. You can find her as she navigates through literature and history on Twitter @ReadingInNYC.

I was a book snob as a child.

I thought I was terribly sophisticated, so I ignored most children’s books for novels that I was definitely too young for. Therefore, I didn’t discover many classic children’s novels until I was older—I read PETER PAN in college, THE HOBBIT in my midtwenties, and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE as a graduate student.

When I first read Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME, I was 23, and frankly, I didn’t get it. I thought perhaps I should’ve read it as a child, when my mind was more open and willing to suspend disbelief.

Several years passed and I heard that Selma director Ava DuVernay would be directing a star-studded and multicultural adaptation of the novel featuring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey, due out next year. My curiosity was piqued, so I picked up a copy and reread it on my commute.

I got it this time.

Maybe I’ve grown more receptive to odd ideas, or maybe it helped that I’ve since read A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, or maybe I’m just in a different place than I was years ago. All I can say is that this time, while following Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin on their difficult, suspenseful, and unnerving adventure through time and space to rescue Meg’s lost scientist father, I was enthralled and moved.

Meg was no longer a bratty teenager—well, she was, but I didn’t mind this time because I also remembered being a bratty teenager—and her worries were very real and familiar to me. I may not have scientist parents or have ever traveled through wormholes, but I have worried about my family, felt different from my peers, and been relieved to find a friend who understands.

And like Meg, I also miss my dad.

It probably wasn’t the best timing on my part to read A WRINKLE IN TIME a few months after my dad passed away. I saw myself in Meg, a lonely, frustrated girl desperately searching for the father who always loved and supported her.

I wouldn’t dare spoil the classic for anyone, so I won’t go into plot details right now. But suffice it to say, my rereading of A WRINKLE IN TIME resulted in me crying on a bus.

Literature has a funny way of being the conduit for our personal feelings and experiences. A 50-year-old children’s book that I didn’t even care for the first time I read it suddenly became a cathartic reflection of my own grief. It even comforted me to realize that, like Meg, I am not alone.

I will forever champion Madeleine L’Engle’s remarkable novel. So I will be first in line to see the film adaptation next year, and I’m sure I’ll cry again. I want to support the stories of young girls (and their female creators) because, like so many others besides A WRINKLE IN TIME, they’ve always supported me.

A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L'Engle

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