Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

Such a thing as a tesseract

I don't remember when I first read the novel. Younger than ten, older than five. I don't remember where I found the book, either. School library? Community library? The bookshelf at my grandmother's house? Waldenbooks? But I remember exactly the cover of the edition I first read:


Wrinkle was a marvel to me, though I'm not sure I realized until many years later just how much it apparently meant to me. There were so many things young me could love about it: the blend of science and the mystical; the complex concepts of folding space-time; the creepy sameness of everything on Camazotz. Old me appreciates so much more: the protagonist who is woefully displeased with everything about herself, who believes herself dumber than everyone around her despite being extraordinarily capable and intelligent; the special otherness of her little brother, whom everyone misunderstands; the interesting blend of science and religion, which makes me wonder: if I'd grown up with religious perspectives like L'Engle's, might I have remained religious into adulthood? 

A few years ago, I bought the Time quintet as a boxed set, anticipating the day I might share it with my daughter. I've been building her up to this moment for a little while now—we began with Hope Larson's lovely graphic novel adaptation of Wrinkle (Squish adored it, and I loved it as well), and followed that with the Disney movie (which Squish loved, and which I had more complicated feelings about). 

Last night, at bedtime, I asked Squish if she was ready to begin this adventure. We journeyed downstairs into my office and retrieved the boxed set from my bookshelf. She carried it upstairs almost reverently. Before we began, we made a plan: We'd try to read the first two books—Wrinkle and A Wind in the Door—by her birthday (in December). No particular reason for the timing; I just can't wait to discover each story with her all over again. I told her the story of how I read Wrinkle as a boy, and how special it was to me, and how much it meant to me even now, all these years later. 

She ran from her room and returned with a notebook and pencil. I watched as she copied down the titles of all five books, then made a tick mark next to Wrinkle. "Okay," she said. "I'm ready." And we read the first chapter—Mrs Whatsit—from start to finish. Squish was wonderfully rapt during the entire chapter, until Mrs. Whatsit turns to Mrs. Murry and reminds her that "there is such a thing as a tesseract." Squish gasped. It was wonderful. 

Wrinkle should be a nice introduction to L'Engle's way of writing. The familiarity by now of the story should help my daughter follow some of the book's more complex themes, which will prepare her for the mitochondria and farandolae of A Wind in the Door, and lead us right up to the time-traveling unicorn of A Swiftly Tilting Planet. That third book was my favorite, years ago, but it has been ages since I've read it, and I'm curious to see quite how it holds up. 

I'm a little giddy about this whole experience, and quite envious of Squish, who has no idea the wonders that await her. Watching her experience these stories for her first time will be an adventure of my own. 

A filmic deepening

Making records