You might remember this post from several weeks ago when I celebrated the success of convincing my book group to read When You Reach Me and Wrinkle in Time. Well, we met up last week to discuss and the the verdict was:
Everyone loved When You Reach Me!
The overall opinion was that WYRM had an interesting plot, good characters, pretty exact setting, and a good plot twist. Also, since it was a fantasy based in reality, it wasn't difficult to follow, although everyone admitted that thinking about the time travel made their head hurt. We had a great discussion about Miranda and her mom, friends, the laughing man, the origin of the book, everything. I was so happy and relieved. Since this is one of my favorite books, I really hoped that it wouldn't get torn apart, but turns out, WYRM holds just as much interest for adults as for children.
On the other hand, Wrinkle in Time was met with lukewarm approval.
I read WIT as an adult, after reading WYRM actually, and I felt the same way about it now as I did a few years ago-it feels overly complicated, yet simplistic. I feel like the characters lack depth but the whole thing with jumping planets and fighting the black thing is too complicated. Also, when comparing WIT to WYRM, I will always choose the latter. I care so much more about Miranda and her friends than Meg and her family. Also, Charles Wallace is just a creepy little kid, whether he's possessed by IT or not. Also, since WIT in true fantasy with very little reality, it's harder to follow. Those that read it as children remember enjoying it, but they also admitted that this was the first piece of science fiction or fantasy that they had read. Now, with the flood of children's fantasy available, this isn't quite measuring up.
Part of the shortcoming of WIT could be that it is part of a larger series, so not all questions are addressed. Like why is Charles Wallace so smart, why is Meg in the middle, what is the black thing? I can only assume that the series takes on these questions and gives satisfying answers, whereas WYRM throws out questions and answers all in one book. Also, children are more accepting of random plots. If you tell a child in a book that the sun is purple, fine, in this world the sun is purple, but adults tend to want more explanation of that. This makes me wonder if WIT is one of those books with an expiration date. If you have not read it by 12 years old, there's just no bother. I've felt that way about several books. I can't understand the appeal because I am not in the right frame of mind. The Book Expiration Date Hypothesis is a discussion for another day, so I'll put a pin in it.
But the exciting part is, this book club lead to a great discussion about all things children's and YA lit. We touched on Hunger Games and Twlight (for a second) and how this is becoming a serious area for adult readers. I'm excited. I feel like I might have changed minds, at least a little, about children's and YA lit.
There was one funny moment. I had been explaining about the whole background of the books, the Newbery award, their place in current reading trends, then mentioned how I do not read adult books. One women asked me why I only read kid's books. My friend decided to share the secret that I'm basically a weirdo that can't read, which got a big laugh. Really, I'm just fan and love reading kids books, but it is funny to talk about with a bunch of literature snobs.
I invite you to give it a try! Be bold! Read a kid's book! Walk into the children's section of your library with your head held high and exclaim "I like Children's Books!" But don't exclaim too loudly, or you might be shushed.