A Wrinkle in Time (and the rest of the Time Quintet) by Madeleine L’Engle
I have to admit that I never read The Chronicles of Narnia books until my twenties. (It was the first The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie that finally did it. I’d seen the animated movie and even a community theater production as a child, but I think I was too afraid of the witch to turn to the books.) My trippy but awesome fantasy for kids with apparently Christian themes that I missed at the time was L’Engle’s Time Quintet.
Whenever my family went on road trips when I was growing up, my parents softened my distaste for long car rides and built up excitement for my sister and me with a little “gift basket” of things to keep us entertained. Since I was the voracious reader, I got all of the books. A Wrinkle in Time was given to me on one such occasion, and I remember devouring it quickly over the next few days and asking to be taken to a bookstore while still on vacation, so I could pick up the next book!
Despite this, I have to admit that my memory of what happens in these books is fuzzy. Even though I took time out from studying for my college exams to watch the TV movie adaptation in 2004 (which I think I thought was okay), I still can’t remember much. I do remember this, though: it features a strong, young female protagonist on an epic, science fiction/fantasy adventure. That was pretty rare for me to find at the time. I also think that Many Waters was one of my favorites of the series. Something about the twins being older and traversing a desert land… I really ought to re-read more of my childhood favorites! (Too bad my to-read list is endless at the moment.)
Izzy, Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voight
Not every book I read in middle or high school was part of a series. (Although you wouldn’t know that from the books I’ve covered in these blog posts so far!) Although I didn’t remember all of the details of this book (that’s what summaries are for!), I remembered I really liked it.
The name of this book is fun to say! However, the book is anything but fun because poor Izzy is “willy-nilly” when her life is turned upside down. Izzy, a popular high school cheerleader, makes a few bad choices and winds up missing a leg after getting into a car with a drunk driver. Not only does she go through a lot of powerful emotions dealing with her disability and physical therapy, but she discovers that everyone treats her differently, too. She can’t go back to being that popular cheerleader. She doesn’t even know if she wants to. So she learns what real friendship is all about.
I remember thinking the book had a lot of powerful images. A scene where Izzy takes a bath after she’s let out of the hospital and just stares at her amputated leg as reality sinks in still sticks with me. And it showed a “popular girl” character with depth! Popular girls aren’t the usual type of character I enjoyed reading (Sweet Valley excepting, but there were geeks in that, too), yet here, she was entirely compelling.
I read this for school and I remember my friends really loved it, too. We had to do a sketch of a scene for class, and I got to play Izzy (sitting on one leg). We borrowed the school nurse’s wheelchair with her permission (glad no one needed it while I was in class!), and my friends pushed me in it all the way back to class. Several people stopped us to ask me if I was okay… Oops!