A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)by Madeleine L'Engle Published 07 Nov 2017
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It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".
Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?
"A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)" Reviews
the book that first inspired me to tentatively pick up my pencil and my marbled black-and-white composition notebook (remember those?) and write (in 4th grade). the influence l'engle herself and her work have had on my life cannot be understated. i met her many many years later, during college, when she was well into her 80s, but she was exactly as i pictured her-- spirited, engaging, challenging. when i (very nervously and shyly) told her that she gave me my first inspiration to write, she looked me in the eyes and, with a genuineness in her tone i can't describe, thanked me. i gave her my book to be autographed. she signed in it an handed it back to me. as i walked away, i read her inscription, which said, with love and a flourish, "ananda!" i admit it-- i had to look it up to find out what it meant and when i did, my respect for her grew even deeper (i won't get into the entire background of the word/name here, you can google it yourself). "ananda" means bliss or joy. it was so perfect, i nearly cried.
an amazing book and an amazing woman.
What a fun weird little story!
Thirteen-year-old Meg Murry’s house is visited, on a “dark and stormy night” by a mysterious stranger named Mrs. Whatsit who says, “Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.” Tesseract refers to confidential scientific work Meg’s father conducted for the government before he went missing several years prior. On the following day, Meg accompanies her little brother to Mrs. Whatsit’s house and finds herself unexpectedly swept away on an intergalactic adventure with hope of being reunited with her father.
Reaching for A Wrinkle in Time lends itself to high expectations. L’Engle’s book won the Newbery Medal in 1963, has been adapted to film more than once, and is heralded by many – young and old alike – as a longstanding favorite. But, as a first-time reader diving in with expectations fanned by the flames of so much praise, disappointment, it seems, was inevitable.
To be fair, several aspects of L’Engle’s distinguished novel are pleasing. It opens with atmospheric writing that later gives way to fanciful descriptions. In a commendably daring act, L’Engle puts forth a female protagonist at a time – and in a genre – where female protagonists were not readily accepted. Better still, young Meg is awkward and unattractive. Her looks having been traded for smarts – particularly in mathematics (an intelligence that likely trickles down from her scientist father and mother).
It’s easy to discern the value in L’Engle’s efforts to introduce young readers to complex scientific theories. Yes, she makes them easy to understand, but she also avoids the mistake of thinking too little of her young audience, holding firm in her belief that the fluidity of a child’s imagination allows them to grasp concepts that would baffle most adults. Above all else, the fundamental messages of A Wrinkle in Time are lovely: light must battle dark to keep it at bay; moments of sorrow are what sweeten happiness; individuality and free will are priceless; and love is power.
But . . .
Meg is an irritating protagonist. She’s prone to fits and over-reacting. When she’s not shrieking or screaming, she’s confused or complaining. The decision to go on an adventure isn’t Meg’s. It’s her younger brother, Charles Wallace, that declares they will depart, and Meg is merely whisked along, screaming and clutching to Calvin O’Keefe (one of the most popular boys in school) along the way. As empowered female protagonists go, Meg doesn’t show her true colors until the end of the book.
With all due respect to Ms. L’Engle, her religious convictions saturate the story. Despite exploring scientific theories and naming several artists and scientists, L’Engle’s religion remains front and center throughout the book. The result is a title that seems better suited for a categorization in Christian fiction.
Any doubt of this is dashed away by L’Engle’s proclamation during her Newbery Medal acceptance speech that, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth . . . The extraordinary, the marvelous thing about [the book of] Genesis is not how unscientific it is, but how amazingly accurate it is.” Is it a mark against A Wrinkle in Time that Christian themes pervade the book? Certainly not! But is there any indication going in that a religious doctrine dictates this children’s book? None whatsoever.
Finally, as plot pacing goes, A Wrinkle in Time leaves much to be desired. Halfway through the book, little has happened. The second half is slightly less uneventful, but the final chapters feel rushed and the neat-and-tidy conclusion is far too convenient.
Though it’s easy to appreciate the bold strides L’Engle took as an author and the merit of her contribution to children’s literature, A Wrinkle in Time’s appeal seems to have gotten lost in the folds of time.
“It was a dark and stormy night...”
Okay, I haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time since fifth grade, so I was kind of nervous going into this. Yet, I was very pleasantly surprised, and I’m even more excited to see the new movie adaptation in March! I mean, this reads a little “old” and “simple” but it was still such a delight to read. I will say that I didn’t remember any of the religious/spiritual aspects that were woven in, so apparently fifth grade Melanie, who went to a Catholic school and everything, just pushed those out of her mind throughout the years.
The basic premise of A Wrinkle in Time, that I’m sure you all know, stars a young girl named Meg is one of four siblings in her family, and both of her parents are scientists. Meg and Charles are very intelligent, therefore outcasts, but where their twin siblings, who are of normal IQ, fit in just fine. One day, her father goes missing and Meg, Charles, and their new friend, Calvin, meet a very peculiar trio, who take them on an intergalactic adventure that they will never forget. They essentially travel by folding or “wrinkling” time.
Overall, this was a super enjoyable read, that totally did give me a swift kick in the nostalgia feels. Yet, I’m not sure how well it would hold up if this was your first time experiencing the story. I do feel like there is a little something here for everyone, and even though this is considered a middle grade book, I do think it holds up pretty well for most ages. And honestly? Even reading this in 2018, this is still a very unique book.
“There will no longer be so many pleasant things to look at if responsible people do not do something about the unpleasant ones.”
This is a story about love, and family, and faith, and being able to think for yourself. I can totally understand why this is a literary classic, and I’m so happy I reread it! And now I’m totally pumped for the movie!
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Valentine's Day buddy (re)read with the beautiful Wren! ❤
Anybody else read it with this cover?
I did. 1986, I was in 6th grade, and it was assigned to us by our teacher.
This book changed my world. Or at least, my reading world.
Welcome to sci-fi, kid!
I have no idea how many times I've read this story, but as a child, I read it so much that this awesome cover eventually fell off. So many great memories of these characters, and easily my favorite childhood novel.
After doing a re-read of it this year, I have to say it holds up pretty well for a book that was written in 1962. One of the things that helps it age so decently is that L'Engle didn't have much in it that could age it. No brand names, no popular trends, no references to any politics of the day. The only stuff that really let you know you were reading a book written in the 60's were Calvin saying things like Golly! unironically or Charles Wallace being disrespectful by calling his father Pops.
It's a very simple story that I read in just under 2 hours, but I remember it being complex enough when I was younger. I think it hits all the right points for a kid who feels out of place and weird, and didn't we all feel out of place an weird at that age?
Yes. Yes, we did.
The only thing I was less excited about this time around were all the religious references, but the book is what it is, and you just kind of have to accept that God is a big theme in this and move on if you want to enjoy it. It's not too preachy, so there's that.
Will kids today like it? I'm trying to get mine to read it now, so ask me again in 6 months.
But I'd been putting off re-reading this thing for 20 plus years and was pleasantly surprised that it was still such a charming story.
Highly Recommended...for nostalgia.