Originally published in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time, won the Newbury Medal in 1963, the Oklahoma Sequoya Award, and adapted to film in 2018. I read it to my 9-year-old son over the past few weeks, and he’s agreed to help me write the review. We also watched the movie, so will include a few thoughts on their comparison.
Title: A Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Date published: 2018 (first published 1962)
Page Count: 224
“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?” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1309367.A_Wrinkle_in_Time
A Wrinkle in Time, told in third person from Meg’s perspective, begins on Earth, then transports the reader to Uriel, “the third planet of the star Malak in the spiral nebula Messier 101″, a two-dimensional planet, Orion’s belt, and a dark planet called Camazotz.
The main theme of this story is love and light. Their weakness. Their strength. It’s refreshing to read a book with a brother and sister who absolutely love each other to the ends of the Universe.
Meg, is having a tough time at school since her father left. Like many children, she feels like she doesn’t fit in with her glasses, dental braces, and wild hair. When she feels scared, or sad, she becomes extremely defensive and aggressive. Although her attitude and actions are often annoying, her character is understandable.
Meg’s mother, Mrs. Murry, is a beautiful scientist. Mr. Murry was working at the Institute for Higher Learning, and did classified work for the government before he mysteriously disappeared.
Meg has twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, and a five-year-old brother named Charles Wallace. The twins aren’t in the story much (and not in the movie at all). My nine-year-old son, who’s been diagnosed as gifted, said he felt he was the most like Charles Wallace, who also has a high IQ. My son liked reading a book with smart children who were into Math and Science.
“‘It’s lucky he has someone to understand him.’ (Mrs. Whatsit) ‘But I’m afraid he doesn’t,’ Mrs. Murry said. ‘None of us is quite up to Charles.’
‘But at least you aren’t trying to squash him down.’ (Mrs. Whatsit)
As a mother, this conversation between Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Murry gave me goosebumps. Raising a gifted child is challenging, and in my son’s case, it’s often a daily struggle to help him regulate his emotions, and understand that most kids his age can’t think of things the way he does. We often find it hard to communicate effectively, which leads to him having a tantrum. When we’re having a rough day, I’ll be reminding myself to not “squash him down.”
My son’s favourite character is the Murry family dog, Fortinbras. Part Llewellyn setter, part greyhound and who “never barked without reason”.
Meg and Charles Wallace meet Calvin, who’s a couple of years older than Meg. Calvin is on the basketball team, tall, skinny, orange hair, with freckles. One of eleven kids in his family, he’s loyal, protective, and polite.
…”‘this afternoon I had a feeling that I must come over to the haunted house…Maybe it’s because I’m supposed to meet you.'” – Calvin
When Meg meets Mrs. Whatsit she’s wearing a coat with a turned-up collar, a stole, a hat, and four scarves of different colours.
“‘Wild nights are my glory,’ Mrs Whatsit said. ‘I just got caught in a down draft and blown off course.'” – Mrs. Whatsit
Mrs Who is a plump little woman, with thick glasses, and mainly speaks using quotes of many languages. In the movie she quotes famous songs, helping her character feel more current.
Mrs Which is the leader of the three. She’s authoritative, wise, and not afraid to speak her mind.
Helped along the way by some interesting characters (such as Aunt Beast), Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace, join Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit on a quest to save her father from The Dark Thing called IT.
My son and I loved all the different science fiction aspects of this novel. As an adult, I appreciate the eloquent writing. The excitement and descriptions kept my son focused, intrigued, begging for just one more chapter before bed.
“‘Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything,’ Mrs Whatsit explained earnestly. ‘We tesser. Or you might say, we wrinkle.'”
My son enjoyed “cool words”. We spent a good deal of time discussion the fifth dimension after reading about a tesseract. Honestly, I think he understands this better than I do.
The first dimension is a line.
Square the first dimension to get second dimension, a flat square.
The third dimension is second dimension squared, a cube.
In the fourth dimension you’d square the square, what Einstein called TIME.
Square the fourth to make fifth dimension, a tesseract.
Did Not Like: The religious parts…quotes from the Bible. It didn’t bother me all that much though. I would have liked to see more world-building.
As with most adaptations, the book is BETTER than the movie. If you watched the movie and didn’t like it, I highly suggest you give the book a try. A Wrinkle in Time is not a fast-paced book, and yes there are faults and holes – BUT it’s a really fun read and carries fantastic messages about acceptance, perseverance, and to not take your family or friends for granted. I recommend this one to readers 8 years-old+, and look forward to reading the sequel, A Wind in the Door.
“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. – Mrs. Whatsit”
Madeleine L’Engle is quite an interesting woman, I’d love to read more about her life. Born in November 1918, L’Engle spent her childhood in New York, moved to the French Alps when she was 12, then back to the United States to finish high school. She eventually settled back in New York with her husband and their three children. L’Engle published 60 novels, A Wrinkle in Time series being the most popular.