Mar 5, 2008

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Meg Murray, and of her journey through the folds of space and time to rescue her missing father. In the novel’s first few chapters, we are introduced to Meg and her unique family. Her mother is a beautiful and bright scientist; her twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, are popular in school; her youngest brother, five-year-old Charles Wallace, is extremely intelligent and precocious, but because he doesn’t say much around strangers, most people assume that he's "not all there".

Unlike the twins, Meg is not doing well in school. She’s having problems both at the academic and the personal levels. Her impatience and short temper keep getting her in trouble, and her grades are not the best. Because of this, Meg believes that she’s not smart, and she also thinks that the fact that she doesn’t fit in means that there’s something wrong with her. On top of this, Meg’s father has been away working on a secret project for the government for a long time, and when his letters to his family cease to come, people begin to say that he has left his wife for another woman. Needless to say, this absolutely infuriates Meg.

It is when three strange ladies by the names of Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which enter her life that things begin to change. Before she can figure out what’s going on, Meg finds herself travelling with her younger brother and their friend Calvin to another planet, to rescue their father from a disembodied brain known as IT.

A Wrinkle in Time is an intelligent book, the kind of book that does not talk down to children. While I am a big fan of children’s literature, I abhor the kind of book that treats children as if they were challenged in some way or another. Madeleine L’Engle is clearly not afraid to expose children to complex ideas. Furthermore, she quotes Shakespeare, the Bible, Dante, Seneca and Pascal, among others, and introduces many of these quotes both in their original languages and in English.

Madeleine L’Engle’s Christian philosophy and belief permeates the story, but never for once does it feel forced. The ideas in this book are simple but often forgotten ones, and their appeal is universal – it goes beyond age, genre, nationality or religious creed. A Wrinkle in Time is a story about self-acceptance, about how much better life is if we feel comfortable in our own skins. It’s also about tolerance, individuality, and creativity, about celebrating our differences and the things that make us unique. And finally, it’s about love, about the power of the bonds that tie us to one another.

Given this, I find the controversy surrounding this book completely baffling. How could anyone ever find these things objectionable or harmful? Then again, I have to admit that, although this is saddening, it is hardly surprising. For three great, thoughtful reviews of this book (reviews that inspired me to pick it up, I might add), check out Quixotic’s, Chris’ and Bellezza’s.

Also Reviewed at:

Books Love Me
Library Queue

Maw Books
The Well-Read Child
Rebecca Reads
SMS Book Reviews
In Spring it is the Dawn
1 More Chapter
Bloody Bad Book Blog
Books & Other Thoughts

On a side note, this made me smile for a very long time (and Chris too, I bet). It never ceases to amaze me how the Internet has made the world so small.

ETA: A Wrinkle in Time revisited.


  1. Charles Wallace, at least in the beginning few chapters, is one of my favorite written characters ever. I just love the way he is presented, the way he speaks, etc. Brilliant piece of writing there.

  2. I had a hard time writing a review of this one. Yours is brilliant, but what else is new?

    And the link from Gaiman is super cool. Congrats to both you and Chris!


  3. Those links to you and Chris are cool and I bet they made your day :)
    I am looking forward to reading this book this year but didn't know about the controversy. It felt like everyone was reading it and loving it last year it inspired me to put it on my list for this year. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.

  4. I wandered over here from Mr. Gaiman's blog. I think I'll hang around a while. :)

    I read "A Wrinkle in Time" when I was much younger, but didn't remember much about it. When I heard that Ms. L'Engle had died, I decided it was time for a reread and picked up the "Time Quintet" boxed set. (I'm a sucker for boxed sets.) I read them all in a week and was blown away. I think "Many Waters" and "An Acceptable Time" are my favorites, but I loved them all.

    I've wondered about the controversy too; all I can conclude is that these books are full of the truth, and that reading them challenges us to reassess our beliefs. Some people find that threatening (even though they might find that, upon further reflection, they agree with some or all of what the books actually say).

    I think one of the saddest things about banning (or trying to ban) books is that it teaches children to have that knee-jerk reaction to new ideas, rather than teaching them to think.

  5. What a wonderful and well-deserved compliment to have Neil Gaiman put a link on his blog to your blog! Awesome! (Very nice review of A Wrinkle in Time, also!)

  6. Carl: I liked him a lot too. He's definitely a memorable character!

    CJ: You're too nice :P I had forgotten that you had reviewed this one too, but I remember now, and I enjoyed your review. I want to read the rest of the series now! And thanks :D

    Rhinoa: Yup, it made my day! About the book, everyone who reads it seems to love it, but it's one of the most frequently banned/challenged books. L'Engle is Christian, but she is often accused of being "blasphemous", probably by the same people who want to burn Harry Potter books because they think they turn kids into Satanists.

    Christopher: Hi! Thanks for stopping by, and you are very welcome to hang around :) I'm a sucker for boxed sets too, and now I have my eye on that one. I'd like to read the rest of this series. You have a very good point there. People don't seem to realize that when they try to ban books they are giving the children they want to protect a worse example than even the most questionable of books ever could.

  7. Robin: Thanks! Like Rhinoa said it totally made my day :D I can't wait for Chris to see it - I bet it'll make his day, too.

  8. Oh how cool - yep, that is something to make your day :)
    I really enjoyed your review of A Wrinkle in Time. I know I read that as a child but my goodness I don't remember anything about this book. I think it would certainly merit re-reading!

  9. that is too cool about the neil link!!!! too cool!

    "wrinkle" sounds special. its really nice when a children's book is intelligent in that way. i remember it was something that i really appreciated when i was a kid.

    i felt that way with roald dahl. and even though his stuff is juvenile and somewhat silly, i felt that it was because he was somewhat juvenile and silly - not because he thought that kids couldn't grasp anything else. and i felt he wanted to have fun.

    i always felt that he respected my intelligence. it was like, "hey friend, lets have some fun".

  10. Yay for you!Neil gaiman in person read your review, well done!!

    as for the book, it sounds wonderful and I will read in one day or another, after all it's a classics:)

  11. You've written a fabulous review here for a fabulous book. Any plans on reading the other books in the Time Quartet?

  12. I first read "A Wrinkle in Time" when I was ten--and found a whole new world of fantasy and strong ideas. I haven't really looked back since. Thanks for the reminder...

  13. OMGosh...a link in Mr. Gaiman's blog! Does it get any cooler than that?!! And of course, you know he must have enjoyed your review or he wouldn't have linked it, huh?

    I'm so glad you enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time. Annie and I read it last year for school. That was the first time I'd ever read it, and I really loved it. I just wish I'd discovered it as a kid, because I think it could have been one of those "really special" ones, if you know what I mean.
    And I can definitely understand why Annie picked Meg, along with Lyra and Hermione for her sleepover :)

  14. Nymeth, I really enjoyed reading your review on A Wrinkle in Time. It really makes me want to get the book and read it! ;)

    And how exciting that your review for Gaiman's book is listed on his site!!! I'm thrilled for you, way to go! :D Congrats to you and Chris!

  15. I just reread that book not too long ago, and I think it really stands the test of time. It is an interesting, exciting read, and there are deeper levels to it. And that is so great that your review got linked back to Gaiman's site. How cool!

  16. So I think we need to have some sort of fanboy/girl blogger celebration :p I was just a little excited to say the least when I got home!

    Loved A Wrinkle in Time. I've read it numerous times over the years and I've always loved it. It was one of the first "big books" that I ever read when I was a little kid and I instantly fell in love with it. Every time I go back to it I find something different in it. Last time I read it, I discovered that she quoted my favorite Shakespeare quote that I took my blog name from! Never noticed that before. And you're's baffling that this book has been banned. Stupid really...I just don't get it.

  17. I'm so glad you picked this up (and that our posts were enticing to you)! This book remains one of those which deeply touched my life, when I was only in sixth grade, teaching me that love can overcome hate. I find Madeleine is always good for a lesson, no matter which book of hers one chooses.

  18. This is one of those books that I'm ashamed to say that I've never read. Thanks for such a great review. I'll have to make time to read this one.

  19. I've read this years ago and I have to admit that the storytelling was great. It's just too bad my copy of the book ended up being eaten by termites. Boo hoo! That and the other books with the family in it. Double boo hoo!


  20. Iliana: Yup, I'd say this one is worth re-reading!

    JP: isn't it? :D I think that's a very good point. I have that same impression too. Roald Dahl may be silly at times, but be doesn't underestimate children.

    Valentina: I don't know how you could manage to resist reading Odd for so long :P I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And the same goes for A Wrinkle in Time!

    Court: Thank you :) I do plan on reading the others, yup.

    Andrea: I can really see this one having the same effect on me if I'd discovered it as a child. Luckily I ended up finding that same world via other things.

    Debi: Well, not necessarily - normally when something new of his is released he posts links to all sorts of reviews. I think that the case was that Chris and I were among the first to devour the whole thing and post about it :P BUT just the fact that he read it is amazing enough :o Like I told Andrea, I think this one would have made an even bigger impression on me as a kid. And now I can see why Annie picked her too!

    Melody: I'm glad you enjoyed the review, and I hope you enjoy the book! And thanks :D

    Kim: It definitely stands the test of time. I can see this one being loved by many future generations of children (and adults).

    Chris: lol, bring the fanboy/girl celebration on :P I know just what you mean by "a little excited" :P
    I noticed that quote from The Tempest, and needless to say it reminded me of you. I'm really looking forward to reading that play later this year.

    Bellezza: The lesson of this book is a beautiful one. I look forward to reading more of her work. I can see why she's a favourite of yours.

    Lisa: It's never too late! I hope you enjoy it :)

    Lightheaded: That is such a shame :( Damn those termites!

  21. I remember seeing posters for this book when I was in 4th or 5th grade and being SO jealous that the advanced classes got to read it. I would love to finally read this one!

    Also, what a great compliment to have your review posted on Gaiman's blog!

  22. I like to think that more people have read the book than they would have otherwise because of all the additional publicity from the attempted censorship. It is one of my favorite books, and I will always be grateful to my 3rd grade teacher for reading it to our class!

  23. Great site! I just stumbled across it. I love love love "A Wrinkle in Time." I had no idea about the controversy. I read it sooo many times as a child. It still sticks with me as memories of friends. Great and intelligent comments.

  24. Trish: You do have to read it! If you end up joining Once Upon a Time II, it'd be a perfect choice :)

    Darla: That is a good point! Attempts at censorship always end up drawing attention to the book in question.

    Nicole: Hello, and thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment :) It's so nice how old childhood favourites often feel like old friends, isn't it?

  25. As always, fab review!

    Also, congrats on the linkage - squeeee!

  26. I wished I had read this book when I was'd be interesting to see how the younger me would have perceived the book. Sadly, this book didn't fascinate me all that much although I enjoyed reading about Charles Wallace. I liked his character! The ending was pretty quick too. Here's my review.

    By the way, I like reading your summaries. You certainly do have a knack for summarizing books! :D

  27. Wonderful review, thank you. I hope you don't mind I posted a link to it on my blog.

  28. This is a beautiful review and one of the few I read that really struck me as the essence of the story (or at least what I found to be the essence). Thanks for writing such an insightful post!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.