|The way it looked when I read it|
I don’t think it was one book, but many, that saved my life as a child. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was surely one of them. It made me want to be a writer.
I was quiet, sensitive and imaginative. We moved to a new town where the houses were bigger, the families richer and more status conscious, and the kids more cruel. By second grade all of the kids in my class already had friends, or at least other kids they traveled with that could protect them from the truly sadistic kids at the top of the heap. I walked into class on that first day with no armor and no allies. I dreaded the unstructured time of recess and walking between school and home. I never knew what kind of mean things the kids I passed would say, but I knew they would say something. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, it didn’t get better until seventh grade. That year I started junior high, a new school with a new group of kids who didn’t know I should be treated as an untouchable.
But in second grade, the picture books gave way to longer books with characters I could spend hours with all on my own. Book by book, I built a safe space inside myself where I could journey and be free.
Meg Murry, the heroine of A Wrinkle in Time, was awkward, wore glasses, and felt like a disaster just like I did. And her faults, it turned out, were her strengths. She was like me, which helped make it okay to be me. She had my name, too, a name I’d come to hate for all the ways other kids used it against me. Meg helped me take it back. She traveled to other planets, met magical beings, and found courage she never knew she had in order to save her family. I am pretty sure the minute I finished this book, I went back and read it again.
If anything I write does for one person what A Wrinkle in Time did for me, I would be happy.
Here’s how it starts:
It was a dark and stormy night.
In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground.
The house shook.
Wrapped in her quilt, Meg shook.
She wasn’t usually afraid of weather. —It’s not just the weather, she thought. —It’s the weather on top of everything else. On top of me. On top of Meg Murry doing everything wrong.
This book was probably my first science fiction book ever. I still remember trying to wrap my mind around the idea that you could somehow fold space and time into pleats. I’ve loved time travel stories ever since.
Thanks for reading my post! Were there books that saved you as a young person? Which ones? Comment below!