Confessions of a Book Snob

July 10 2017
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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.

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