A Wrinkle In Time And Other Favorite Childhood Books

It’s the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, one of the best books anybody ever wrote. I can’t even remember the first time I read it. It seems like Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin were as much a part of my life as school and homework… sometimes more so. Side note: One of these days I am going to find the perfect stargazing rock and put it in my yard, because every yard needs a stargazing rock.

Madeleine L’Engle’s books are such wonderful flights of fancy, it’s hard to put them down. You can’t Hollywood this stuff – A Wrinkle In Time can really only be appreciated in one’s own imagination. The same is true for the rest of the series. I don’t want to see Progo the cherubim as CGI, and if you tried to re-created IT, it would only look like a brain in a jar a la Star Trek: Return To Tomorrow or Futurama.

Thinking about A Wrinkle In Time had me reminiscing about other favorite childhood books. I’m not sure I can pin down only one favorite, but these are some of the ones that still hold an honored place on my bookshelves.

The Girl With The Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts
Katie has silver eyes and weird powers, and has just discovered that there might be other kids like her. Mrs. M in her muumuus, Lobo the cat, Mr. P, Jackson Jones… they all help and hinder Katie in their various ways as she struggles to find the other kids and the secret behind her powers.

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
When the clock strikes, the door opens onto a magical garden that disappears by day. Tom finds himself traveling back in time into the memories of a girl named Hattie. Is Hattie a ghost, or is Tom the ghost? A story of a wonderful and impossible friendship.

The Ghosts by Antonia Barber
When Lucy and Jamie see the ghosts of two children in the garden, they are thrown into an adventure in which the past must be changed to set things right. The children, Sara and Georgie, died in a fire almost a hundred years ago. Lucy and Jamie have to find out how their ghostly friends died and change the past to ensure their own future.

The Case of the Vanishing Boy by Alexander Key
If I did have to pick a single favorite, this might be it. It’s from the author of Escape To Witch Mountain – now, get the movie out of your head, because the book was SO MUCH BETTER. And this book is better still. Jan has lost his memory and is fleeing from something he can’t remember. He encounters a girl, Ginny, who is blind and yet still appears able to see her surroundings. Together they uncover a plot involving mind control, kidnapping, a mad scientist, and a strange place called Elysium.

What are your childhood favorites? Share in the comments!


Writing, Depression, And Science Fiction

I wasn’t going to talk about this here. Maybe that was naive. I’d been working on a nice mundane post about my writing resolutions for the New Year, but it’s going to have to wait. When I woke up yesterday I read something really important from The Bloggess about her struggle with depression.

Uh-oh. And it’s January. That’s significant for me, like a cosmic message saying, “You are supposed to write about this.” (I believe the universe added, “Now, stupid,” but that part was muttered under its breath.)

Because I suffer from depression and anxiety, too. Not offically, as I have an abject abhorrence of anything approaching therapy, but I’d be a fool to think it was anything else. In my case it revolves around my adoption, hence my issues with January because that is when I was born and adopted. There is evidently also some biological basis, but that’s one big joojooflop situation better discussed on my 73adoptee blog.

My BFF (howdy, sis!) calls me “high functioning” because I can go about my daily world while depressed. As far as I know, most people aren’t aware of my inner struggles. Maybe that, too, is naive, and everyone is really whispering behind my back. It’s not something I want to talk about in public – which is why I’m blogging about it. I might not have bothered if The Bloggess hadn’t brought it up, but too many suffer in silence and that’s a theme I know all too well. I’ve discussed it at length on 73adoptee. Adoption and depression go together like peanut butter and chocolate, only not as tasty. (There’s a related entry that I posted on 73adoptee this week: my annual thoughts on adoption, birthdays and depression.)

Just as people in the adoption community are not supposed to talk publicly about the downsides of adoption, people who suffer from depression are not supposed to discuss it either. That’s why The Bloggess’s post is so important. It’s rare to find someone who is so honest about her experiences with depression. I wonder how someone who doesn’t suffer from depression would read it. Would they find it disturbing or unusual? It resonated to me.

I use writing, both fiction and nonfiction, to combat depression and anxiety. You could call it a crutch, or creative therapy without shelling out the health insurance. To me it’s more of a spiritual necessity, a formative part of an identity already fractured by adoption: I-Must-Write. Not-Writing equals walls closing around me. I can’t let my imagination stay in one place. Reading, writing, blogging keeps the depression at bay, like a single candle in the cavernous dark.

It’s also why I love science fiction and fantasy. Escapism is my coping strategy. I don’t care if it’s inappropriate to admit that. Why should it be? It’s how I’ve always lived. I don’t know another way. I’m not sure there is one. I’m not sure I want one, because it also gives me incredible strength. I see strange and often beautiful things in the world around me that I might otherwise miss. I appreciate my husband and kids more. I can enjoy things with the wonder of a child. I get to talk with really cool geeky people about really cool geeky things that other people might think stupid. Like, does it really matter exactly how long you can run the Enterprise NX-01’s engines at Warp 5? Of course it does! It makes life more hopeful to pursue the things that make your heart soar. If no one did we would all be like the people of Camazotz, forever hypnotized into a dull routine.

I wasn’t sure if I should post this or not, because it exposes a lot of my personal life and because it may change the way some of you think of me. But then again, I’m the person who used to run down the halls of my all-girls school with a phaser and a Starfleet comm badge. I have always erred on the side of independence versus conformity, struggle versus stagnation. If what I have to say bothers you, you’ll unsubscribe and ignore me. If it interests or inspires you, you’ll stick around and maybe we can all learn something from each other.

It’s good to be reminded that depression comes in waves and it is possible to ride the crest for a while. I guess it doesn’t matter if we come crashing down afterwards as long as we know we’ll eventually rise again. So big thanks and thumb’s up to The Bloggess. Your message came at just the right time for me and a lot of other lost and lonely souls.

(She wrote a followup post which you should read also. The Internet community is rallying to the cause of those who suffer from depression and it’s already making a difference.)

Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net