‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Is a Radical Reimagining of What It Means to Be a Hero
How Ava Duvernay’s diverse casting of a ‘Wrinkle in Time’ gives the novel new meaning
My father read to my brother and me every night and the book we had him read over and over was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Eventually, we would move on to other books like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and even The Hobbit but I would always come back to L’Engle. A Wrinkle in Timewas the first ‘big book’ I read all by myself. And I read it over and over. I felt that it belonged to me and I to it. Meg Murry belonged to me and I identified with her in a way I couldn’t with other heroes in other books and not just because she was a girl although that was a large part of it. It was nearly impossible to find books with a girl as main heroic character and it’s still rarer than it should be. And Meg is a smart girl who isn’t simply the chosen one with special powers, but a brave person who figures things out and just keeps fighting even when things turn against her. Even when friends and family turn against her. And her mother was a scientist. So was her missing father, but it was and still is remarkable to have a mother in a book who’s a scientist. ‘Men are scientists, not women’ is a message young girls receive every day from every part of the world. I wanted to be a scientist and L’Engle made that seem possible. I wanted to be a hero and Meg Murry showed me I could be that too.
When I was seven or eight, after my parents divorced and my father quit teaching at the university and everything had fallen apart. I (and my little brother) with a great deal of help from my Dad, wrote a letter to Madeleine L’Engle asking if we could make a movie of her book. I would, of course, play Meg. My brother, maybe, would play Charles Wallace, although he wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about it. We knew nothing about how movies were made, the astronomical sums of money involved. At that point, my father was living in an ancient, falling-down house on a horse farm. It had no heat except for a wood-burning stove and holes in the roof. The owner of the horse farm wanted to be a patron of the arts of sorts and my father, the writer and english professor, was chosen. In exchange for living rent-free in the house, he would fix it up a bit. We…