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Review: A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle seems to be one of those books that every kid read in school, and somehow I missed it. I wasn’t even aware of the book, but after seeing the movie trailer (featuring two of my favourite women in film and maybe the best-known woman in television). I decided it was time to get to know this apparently-beloved story.

First published in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time follows Meg, the oldest of four children who live with their mother and father – only their father has gone missing while doing top secret work for the government. Meg doesn’t fit in at school, and is seen as surly and rude. Her 5-year-old brother, wise beyond his years, introduces her to a strange trio of unusual characters, who don’t seem quite to be human.

Suddenly, without Meg understanding how it came to be, they team up with another boy from school and head off through the universe through to save her father. Meg must learn to accept her flaws and let them work for her, and she must be resourceful if she’s going to save her father, and something else precious that is lost along the way.

It’s a simple, unusual story, somewhat reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz in some of its absurdist elements. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it enchanting, but maybe I lack the nostalgia of coming back to it or the childlike wonder of reading it for the first time. It was an intriguing and imaginative story that examines what would happen if we could travel through space and time without regard to the rules of physics.

am really exited to see the movie (okay, mostly because Mindy Kaling is in it and she’s amazing), but it was good to know where the original story came from. I went to link up to the trailer and instead found a new one! I love the use of music to show the sinister side of the story:


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Review: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing

Wow. This book wrapped up my non-fiction requirements for the year, but unlike the various educational and self-help books I’ve been immersing myself with, this one is a memoir.

A Beautiful Terrible Thing is the true story about Jen Waite’s relationship with a man who she believed was her soulmate, but who turned out to be a psychopath who used her to feed his ego for years before she found out the truth.

The story is written in alternating chapters, most labelled simply “before” and “after.” Waite paints the rosy picture of a happy, romantic courtship, relationship, and marriage while simultaneously telling the tale of the relationship’s ugly disintegration. Suddenly on her own with an infant daughter, she realizes her husband fits every definition of the word psychopath and has to process this, retroactively reading the signs and putting the pieces together.

The story of this psychopathic relationship is both interesting (as learning something new is interesting; I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, of course!) and frightening. It seems to throw doubt on many relationships in your life as you read – psychopaths are everywhere! Fairy tale relationships are all a scam! – but really it provides important, factual information while sharing what it’s like to live that experience.

Ultimately, I see this as a story of Jen Waite the Phoenix*, who rose from the ashes of her marriage to become a stronger version of herself. Moving from the discovery, through the stages of grief, to deciding to go back to school, Waite tells her story in a candid, lively fashion. She is an excellent storyteller, pulling the important pieces out and holding them up to the light without shoving them in the reader’s face. She shows that there is hope even after being hurt so badly, and that there is life after a bad relationship.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, relationships, memoirs, psychopathic relationships, books about healing, or strong women.


*I didn’t remember this when writing this review, but the last few chapters are labelled “smoke,” “burn,” “truth like fire,” and “rise.” Maybe the phoenix thing wasn’t my idea after all.

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Review: Big Magic

Big Magic seems to me to almost be a manual for all of us creative types. It’s an encouragement and an entreaty to love your work and never stop.

Liz Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love (which I read this November) has been writing she she was young and never stopped. She was determined to write, no matter what became of it – or if nothing became of it. Big Magic is a combination of her best practices, her attitudes, and her beliefs about writing, all spun up nicely and written in a way that draws you in and makes you want to get up off the couch and go make your own art.

The back cover of the book says the following:

“Creativity is sacred,
and it is not sacred.
What we make matters enormously,
and it doesn’t matter at all.
We toil alone, and we are
accompanied by spirits.
We are terrified, and we are brave.
Art is a crushing chore and
a wonderful privilege.
The work wants to be made, and
it wants to be made through you.”

Gilbert does a remarkable job of capturing many of the feelings creative people experience; she makes creative living seem like a worthwhile and lovely profession. But at the same time, she reminds the reader to not take their work too seriously.

She shares her philosophy on creative work, the tortured artist stereotype, and about courage. I especially loved her thoughts on suffering artists and why it’s much more respectful to our craft to take care of ourselves.

Similar to Marie Kondo’s book about tidying (maybe it’s a theme of books with magic in the title), I don’t agree with everything she says – some of it is a tad far-fetched for me.

For example, she believes that ideas are independent operators whose sole purpose in life is to be realized. If a person doesn’t work with an idea soon enough, they will lose it and someone else will get it instead – and that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Gilbert talks about how artists can’t be perfectionists if they wish to create art, and why it’s 100% okay if you have a job that supports you that isn’t the art you’re creating – or why people’s reactions to your work are their own right.

“Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art.
Then stubbornly continue making yours.”

A must-read, for anyone who wants to look at life a little differently, create things, or loves someone who does.