+ I just heard that Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes is going to be made into a movie, as is Madeleine L’Engle’s Camilla. I wonder if this is going to be a new trend: classic slice-of-life YA books getting turned into movies. I mean: the movie studios are still snatching up the rights to Paranormal Romance novels, aren’t they? And I think the dystopian YA books will follow suit.
Tiger Eyes was a favorite of mine back in high school. I reread it a few weeks ago and was surprised at how much it held up. It’s just a good book, period. Funny thing about rereading and rereading a YA book that you’ve loved through the years: you become acutely aware of how freakin’ young the characters are, you kind of want to reach through the pages and tell them it’s okay, it’s okay to be weak sometimes, it’s fine to turn into a sobbing wreck because of what happened, it’s fine to rage out loud and it’s also fine to hold it in. And, oh my gosh, you’re just a kid. And also, wtf, what are your parental figures thinking?*
Heh. It’s funny because when you’re reading it as a ‘grown-up’, you are now half-in and half-out of the character’s shoes: you are still seeing things through their eyes, but you also want to step in and tell them things.
Judy Blume seems to be personally involved in the making of the film, and that makes me really happy. This sounds sappy, but I’m happy for her, that she gets to have the joy of this. I basically grew up on Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret; Deenie; Then Again, Maybe I Won’t and everything else she wrote. There are a lot of, ah, shits and giggles about the way she got right down to the nitty-gritty stuff, down to memetic mutations –who doesn’t know about we must increase our bust? But you know, no one else was saying those things, and then Judy Blume did. And she did it warmly, personally, she made her readers feel better about this horrid and wonder-filled growing up business. I really loved (love!) that about her.
+ It’s just too bad that Madeleine L’Engle never lived to see any great adaptation of her books. I know she hated the Wrinkle in Time TV movie, and from what I’ve heard, the Ring of Endless Light one does not even begin to touch the absolute amazing-ness of the book (also: whyyy would you cast Jared ‘Puppyface’ Padalecki as the bad boy anti-hero? Really??).
I am really happy that publishing companies seem intent on reprinting Madeleine’s entire body of work. Bought a whole new set of them over the holidays. Finally I got to read her rare standalones and got around to the rest of the Austin books that I never read (or: only read once) in my adolescence. See, I loved Meg Murry a whole lot (still do!), but I was Vicky Austin. **
I recently reread my lovely, by-now-falling-apart Time Quartet collection, the books about the Murry family.
It has to be said: sometimes I resent that her Kairos and Chronos books are now all numbered according to ‘reading order’, complete with a family tree and everything. Ohhh, I know it makes sense and causes less confusion and is probably essential if they want good marketing, blah blah…but I have this feeling that when they are packaged as a ‘saga’, people start expecting one to be exactly like the other. And that’s not so! I think Madeleine L’Engle is terrific because all her books can be loved on their own. Back when I was younger, half the fun of collecting, of being a fan, was seeing a new title with MADELEINE L’ENGLE on the book cover, flipping it over to look at the blurb, and then flailing because, yessss, another book starring a character I’ve hung out with in her other books?! Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? ***
I think that A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door are the true companions to each other. From the macrocosm to the microcosm; it’s all about how every living things are connected; it’s allll about stroppy, impatient, wonderful Meg who is both part of the pattern and defying it. Meg! Only now can I really appreciate what a classic and groundbreaking character she was: by all accounts, not many people were writing geeky, short-fused female heroines before she came along. Meg struck a blow for girls like that everywhere, which is pretty awesome.
I also love her relationships with Charles Wallace (yay for siblings that are thisclose to telepathic!), and with Calvin (geek!OTP, oh yesss).
Um and speaking of Charles… I found that A Swiftly Tilting Planet didn’t quite hold up to a reread. Weird, weird feeling. I still vividly remember the first time I read it. It was a dark and stormy night (hah!) and I was up reading very late, spellbound by the last chapters with Charles Wallace fighting for the identity of Madoc/Maddox, and with the tragic end of Beezie’s story. Man, I was a thrilled, shaky, weepy mess the end of the book.
Well… The book still kicked me in the gut with the emotions and the characters; I’ll give it that (forever and ever crying for poor, doomed Chuck Maddox). But I found myself getting really uneasy at the premise of Charles Wallace going back in time and changing the what-might-have-beens. I mean, the book basically says: “It is not bad choices that make someone into an evil person. It’s bad heritage.” I mean…really now, Madeleine L’Engle??? This doesn’t jive with everything I know about your beliefs at ALL! The way some kind of evil gene seemed to be passed along the line of this evil long-ago prince’s ancestors, and Charles had to change history regardless of other people’s choices…bleh. Fond as I am of Charles Wallace, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
But, fine. It’s still a solid book. And I still have…
…Many Waters, the ‘anomalous’ book of the Quartet. Ohhhhh, this book. I don’t care that it’s the oddball one; it never loses its magic over me. Sandy and Dennys Murry are my boys the way Vicky Austin is my girl. It is hard for me to even begin to articulate how much I love this one!
For one thing, I love how the twins are not there on a quest or a purpose: there is no one that they’re sent to save; there is no history that they have to change; they don’t know if they’re there for anything. They are just blasted into the time of Noah’s Ark by one of their father’s experiments. Before the flood. Just a few months before the rains come. Seven hells, what do they DO?
I really love how the book keep right on asking this: what do they do, were they sent here for anything? I mean: it’s SO not like in the previous books where there are Mrs. Whatsits and Teachers and unicorns who guide the protagonists and “know the pattern”. The seraphim in Many Waters are there to listen, but they’re not exactly guardians: even they wonder what on earth the twins are doing in the desert. If it’s an accident, if it’ll cause a paradox
And the boys eventually decide to just wait, “with their eyes and ears open”. Dennys learns to be more independent of his twin and to listen to the ‘song of the stars’ (the stars had already involved him. I shiver along with him when I get to that part ). Sandy starts to seriously consider human kindness and corruption and the kind of man he’ll grow up to be. And they both start questioning the story they are in and the way it was told – “It’s a chauvinist story. Only the males have names.” Interesting that Madeleine L’Engle chose two teenage boy characters to say that (well, they also quote their older sister saying it first, which: go Meg!). I don’t remember that this comes up in any of her other novels.
By the end of the book, I’m just damn proud of the twins for how they wing it, for how they change. “The thing is, something’s happened. We’re not kids anymore. ” Indeed.
Also, Noah’s family. Cannot forget how much I love Noah and everybody in his tenthold! Noah is not this all-benevolent figure: he can get cranky and stubborn and sometimes selfish, but he’s good at heart. Matred, his wife, who always fills her soup pot for beggars, who takes strays in without hesitation, who’ll throw boiling wine at anyone who hurts her family. Japheth and Oholibamah who are terrific in every way. Yalith and Grandfather Lamech and everybody else—they’re all so human and so flawed. I think Dennys sums it up in the last chapter when he says that he’s glad to be home in the real world…but he’ll always be homesick.
Yeah… I love this book a LOT. It makes me want a miniature mammoth to sleep at my feet.
*(I’m finding myself more and more critical of teenage characters’ authority figures in YA books. In books, period. I’m more lenient of grown-up characters when they screw up in the slice-of-real life books. But when it’s a supernatural or fantasy book, and they allow their charges to go waltzing off into danger? Nooooo.)
**Ahem….without her gaggle of her cultured and intelligent admirers, that is. XD Which was for the better. Adolescent!self was confused enough without the attentions of some hottie blue-eyed prince at my heels. Or <s>Holden Caulfield</s> Zachary Grey.
*** Technically the Chronos and Kairos books are both, but you know what I mean. XD
...One day, I WILL learn to write an organized book!post.