Friday, September 7, 2007

Not another one.......

So I guess me and Moonrat are tit-for-tat. I broke her heart yesterday and she feels the need to do the same to me:

Madeline L'Engle is dead.

Yes. That's right. In the same week that I lose my beloved Pavarotti, I also have to deal with the death of the author who wrote my favorite children's book ever. A book so great, it's always stayed on my top 10.

I'm talking about A Wrinkle in Time, obviously.

I wanted to reread it and write a nice long post about this book, but I never got around to it. In any case, the reason this book has stayed on my list all these years is because it's the first book I ever remember that I read and felt something click. Like, ooh, how clever, books not only do a job of telling a good story, but can make a point too.

Beyond the tessarect and the 5 dimensions (which I used to spend hours thinking about, trying to make sense of beyond the abstract - to this day I still can't imagine how you take the third dimension and raise it one more power, and how that therefore equals TIME), beyond Meg who I painfully identified with (uncomfortable in her own skin, not very popular, not all that attractive, awkward, glasses, bad hair, knobby knees), I took two huge learnings from the book-

1. Equality = boring. The people in their same houses playing the same games coming out at the same times. It's boring. Everyone the same is boring. What makes us great is in our differences and individuality. (I'm still trying to remind myself of this everytime I think I'm crazy and not normal like everyone else. Normal = boring. Repeat x10.)

2. Love with a capital L. They win at the end because IT doesn't have love. Doesn't understand love. All of that. Okay, I realize NOW, having lived through about 15 more years, that this is a common common thing. Love conquers all, blahblahblah. I mean that's the whole Voldemort-Harry thing. Voldemort doesn't get love and sacrifice. Okay. So it's everywhere now and not so special, maybe even kind of trite. But when I was young, this blew me away. OF COURSE love was the answer!!! OF COURSE love saved them! How genius! How wonderful!! And at that point in time, I wanted to shout out to my bratty little brother, that I, too, LOVED him, and that's why he would always be safe (even when I was a hateful older sister who bullied him).

No joke - as soon as I read Moonrat's entry, tears sprang to my eyes. Pavarotti to me was a loss I was very regretful of indeed, but somehow Madeline's death, I take extremely, extremely personally. Maybe because she's attached to the most vulnerable part of me, to memories of my childhood, when I was still forming ideas about the world and love, when I was still trying to figure out how to grow up, when I was so shy and unsure of myself that I buried myself in books as my whole world and learned about the world through there. Maybe because I still own the frayed yellow Yearling Dell copy of the book with a jacket no one remembers, maybe because I loved Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit and Charles Wallace like my own. Maybe because once upon a time, I was a little girl who got to the end of this book and suddenly felt that much smarter, wiser, older, because things made a certain sense. Or maybe things made sense because I read this book at a point in my life when I was finally able to make these critical, analytical, philisophical connections.

I grew up, moved on to other books, found other pursuits. But her book meant something to me. Really. And it's sad for me to think that the woman who did all this for me is gone.

But, of course, the beauty of books is that they live on.


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