on July 8, 2007
Meg Murray was one of my best friends growing up. She was imperfect, and loving, and confused, and wickedly smart, and astonishingly dense, and absolutely could not see the beauty of herself (both inside and outside). As a young girl who was also struggling with these things, I found solace and comfort in immersing myself into books where in "the real world" the same types of issues occurred, but that there were "greater" things going on, that she was so uniquely qualified to work on.
While it is true that the book can be read allegorically, it is a treasure all unto itself. I have many geeky, male friends who enjoyed this book as a child, but it did not resonate with them like it did with the woman I have spoken to. I think this is a book wonderful for all genders and ages, but especially lovely for young girls who are a little smarter than the rest of their class, who feel a little less attractive, and who are just finding it difficult to traverse their world.
Many years later, I still find myself reading or listening to this book at least once every year. When things in life start to get a little crazy, and all of those same feelings come back (only now it is being a little too smart at work, and being a little less socially skilled at networking, etc), I visit my friend Meg, and between the two of us things always seem clearer by the end of the book. :)
It is worth noting that there are 3 other books in this "series". A Wrinkle in Time is the first one, then "A Wind in the Door" (A Wind in the Door), "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" (A Swiftly Tilting Planet), and lastly "Many Waters" (Many Waters). The first three are closely tied, but the last one, Many Waters, I actually only realized existed a few years ago. Instead of Having Meg Murray as one of the main characters the book is about an adventure that her younger, twin brothers have. Still good, but a little different than the first 3.
No matter your age, if you have never read these books, and have a little bit of the "intelligent misfit" about you (or ever did), I strongly recommend you pick these books up!
This is a children's book, but it isn't just an adventure story.
It has science-fiction; The Drs. Murray, parents of Meg, Charles Wallace and the twins) are scientists who are researching Time and Space. Dr. Murray takes a time trip and so do the kids.
There is also magic; a trio of "witches" shows up--Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, and they take Meg, her brother Charles-Wallace, and their new friend Calvin on an epic adventure.
It's also the story of a family with a deep trouble who nonetheless stay together, the story of a young girl who is just coming into adolescence with all the awkwardness and confusing feelings, and the story of a special little boy who is thought to be retarded by townspeople.
The symbology L'Engel uses is powerful and original; a giant brain who seduces those around it into surrendering their free will as an ultimate dictator; a shadow-like smog around planets that represents the presence of Evil, and a special young boy who is more than a genius; who is "something new" who nonetheless can be tempted to his own destruction by vanity.
Wrinkle in Time has a lot of fertile subjects for discussions between parents and children about good, evil, how we treat each other, and the choices we make. Ms. L'Engel often uses moral themes in her books and this one contains excellent subjects for discussions about kindness, good, evil, God, and being different, and about the destructiveness of gossip.
Wrinke in Time is like the Potter books in that it is about boys and girls in a magical or fantasy setting. It is unlike the Potter books because it does not focus on wizardry as a craft. Instead it presents the universe as full of wonder, and united by a titanic struggle of Good against Evil. Like the Potter books, there are sequels to Wrinkle in Time, and the story of the Murray kids continues. This was hands-down my favorite book as a child. I still have my copy almost 40 years later.
on May 5, 2007
I read this book in about the 7th grade which was around four years ago. I loved this book when i read it. It combines fantasy and amazing writing into one book. I loved how Meg went to save her brother and father. This book is really truly amazing. When I review a book on amazon that i love, i like to look at the one star review and read why people did not like that certain book. I did the same with this book and learned that a lot of kids under the age of 13 were reading this book, and not enjoying it. They either said that they didn't understand it, and therefore it was boring, or that people can really tesser to another planet. If you do not understand a book, then you should put it down and read it a few years later. Those who stated that no one can really tesser to another planet or place are right, you can't, but this story is fiction, meaning it is not real.
thank you for your time
and i sincerely hope that
you read this book,
The phenomenal success of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books (see Orrin's review)--the first two are currently both in the Top 10 of most Bestseller Lists--lead me to reread this Children's Classic, which was one of the big favorites of our generation. I must have read it around fifth grade--I imagine most every kid in America reads it at some point--and no one will be surprised to hear, it turns out I wasn't as smart as I thought I was when I was ten. Madeleine L'Engle managed to hoodwink me, but good. I thought this was just a great Science Fiction/Fantasy story, but now I discover that the whole book is a religious allegory.
Meg Murry and her brothers, Charles Wallace and the twins, live with their mother. Their Father has been missing for years, supposedly working on a top secret government project. Meg and Charles Wallace are strange children, noone seems to know quite whether they are idiots or geniuses. In short order they meet Calvin, a tall gangly boy, who also feels like a misfit and three women who have moved into an abandoned house in the neighborhood. The old women, Mrs. Whatsit , Mrs. Which & Mrs. Who, inform the children that Mr. Murry is in dire straits and needs their help. They travel through time and space via wrinkles, called tesseracts, to the planet Camazotz, where Mr. Murry has gone to battle the forces of darkness that are closing sections of the universe in shadow. There they battle the evil being known as IT, a disembodied brain who offers people complete security if they will only give up their freedom and their individuality, as have the inhabitants of Camazotz.
Most of the allegorical stuff is easy enough to see, the children can fight evil by finding The Father. Meg despairs that evil is allowed to exist at all and blames her father, and so on. But I really liked the fact that L'Engle portrays Camazotz (or Hell) as a place where there is complete conformity and security, but no personal freedom. Personally, I believe that Camazotz closely resembles both a Socialist or Communist State and the Garden of Eden. Just as the great struggle of Ms L "Engle's time was the fight for freedom against the security of Socialism/Communism, Man chose to leave the security of a pastoral existence in the Garden and accept the vicissitudes of life without because we prefer freedom.
The book also contains one of the most beautiful descriptions of human life that I've ever heard. Mrs. Whatsit compares life to a sonnet:
It is a very strict form of poetry is it not?
There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That's a very strict rhythm or meter, yes?
And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern. And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?
Calvin: You mean you're comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?
Yes. You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.
This book conveys a worthwhile religiopolitical lesson about the human condition and is great fun besides. I look forward to reading it with my kids.
on June 12, 2000
It's difficult to find a book that will capture a young boy's interest while waiting for Harry, but my 9 year old son likes the story line so much, he's stopped playing Nintendo games to read. He's asked me to read to him over breakfast! Although the lead character in the first two books is a girl, Meg Murry, her younger, gifted brother Charles Wallace, plays a major role in all stories, especially the third book. There is a subtle message that I totally missed when I first read these books, some 20 odd years ago, a nice mixture of fantasy, life's meaning, and Meg's difficulty with her hot temper, which (in same situations) has some very positive value. The Murrys are real, loving and likeable. Author Madeline L'Engle uses the characters and the stories, to convey to us thoughts about good and evil, and the strength of a good spirit. You really need to read them in order, so try out the first one. This is an excellent family read together series.
on May 26, 2001
...the perfect opening or one of today's most famous clichés.
I read this book for the first time when I was 10. Actually, "read" is not an appropriate description of what I did; I devoured this book. I read it five times in a row. I wasn't exactly the most popular in my class, some (shhhhhhh) might have even called me a nerd. I found solace in books and though teachers loved me, I had few friends. So, when I came across my mother's copy - old and nearly falling apart - of "A Wrinkle in Time", I began it with my typical brew of hopeful anticipation and anticipated disappointment: the insipid characters associated with children's literature were wearing on my last nerve. At the ripe old age of ten I was growing impatient with and cynical about literature! How could a book this old be interesting? However, to my surprise, I was almost instantly absorbed in the book; I couldn't put it down. I was in awe of Meg Murray, wished she weren't a work of fiction because she'd surely be my best friend. And Charles Wallace reminded me of my own darling younger brother! I read with fervor and finished the book in a weekend. The silly members of The Babysitter's Club and Ramona Quimby (do they still make these?!) were behind me now as I had been introduced to the fantastical world of Ms. L'Engle.
The book is about the adventures of a girl named Meg Murray and her savant younger brother Charles as they search for their mysteriously vanished father with the aid of three very odd women. They encounter various aspects of sci-fi in their mission, but don't let this aspect turn you off: the sci-fi is more like Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia than anything else.
I read AWiT at the age of ten, so if your children are around this age or are advanced readers, hand it to them and help them with the big words and novel concepts. If they are younger, nestle into the comforts of a big chair (preferably with a wild storm raging outside) and spin the tales of Meg, Charles and Calvin.
This book is timeless; I've read "A Wrinkle in Time" at least once a year since the summer preceding 6th grade and have never tired of it nor have I failed to find new things in each reading. This book reminds me of being awkward and alarmingly innocent, insecure and full of anticipation. If you escaped adolescence without reading "A Wrinkle in Time", purchase a copy today, it's not too late. If you have entered adulthood and haven't re-read this book, you will be amazed at the important lessons L'Engle sneaks in. This book is about conformity, perceptions and about being different... being an individual. It is for those who have been rumored to be: "not quite bright," and those who are bright beyond their years.
on March 10, 2003
Meg Murry and her brothers, Charles Wallace and the twins, live with their mother. Their Father has been missing for years, supposedly working on a top secret government project. Meg and Charles Wallace meet Calvin who also feels like almost as much of a misfit as Meg and Charles feel like outcasts. There and also three women who have moved into an abandoned house in the neighborhood, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which & Mrs. Who, inform the children that Mr. Murry, Meg's father is in grave danger and needs their help. They travel through time and space via wrinkles, or tesseracts, to a planet named Camazotz. They understand that this is where Mr. Murry has gone to battle the forces of darkness that are turning sections of the universe into nothing more than shadow. Of course, the Murray children can't just waltz in and snatch up their father. First they must battle the evil being known as IT. IT is a very frightning thing that is described as a disembodied brain who offers people complete security if they will give up their freedom and their individuality, and become just as the others on Camazotz have.
This book contains some of the most beautiful descriptions of human life, and expresses the ability of even younger folk to change the world, and to do it one step at a time. It also shows how storng the family unit is, or must be. This book conveys a worthwhile lesson about the human condition and is great fun to read. It will be a classis in children's literature.
on December 13, 1999
I'm a mom now, beginning to look for books that will turn my daughter onto reading as much as I was and I had this title "A Wrinkle in Time" connected to what I remembered as being "The Best Ever" book, but other than that, I didn't recall much. So I bought it, along with "Wind in the Door" and sat down to decide if it was anything worth giving to my daughter (OK, so she's only 7, perhaps I'll give her a year or 2). What I found was that the story remains great, all these years later.
Another review I read suggests that the pseudo-science was annoying. I don't know. I went on to get my degree in BioChem (with honors from an excellent school), and I have to believe that it was books like this that instilled in me a love for things mysterious. Isn't that what science is really all about, trying to figure out the things that aren't already known!
When reading Wind in the Door, it was funny to read about Mitochondria and realize that I had been first introduced to the concept as a child. I'm left wondering if it made things easier for me than for my college classmates, that I could already conceive of these subcellular structures. It was fun to read it again, with my much greater understanding of cell biology and place myself somewhere between the adult me and the child I once was.
I can't wait for my daughter to be ready to read this under the covers by flashlight. It's definitely a book to be read to yourself, allowing your imagination to soar.
on July 24, 2012
To be direct and concise about it: "A Wrinkle in Time" is one of the greatest titles in all of 20th-century juvenile literature.
To be a little more verbose about it:
One of the fine things about this novel is its characterization. Charles Wallace, Meg and Calvin, the three main characters, are richly drawn -- I first read the book when I was 10 or so, and these kids could have been my real-life friends; they were that real to me.
The plot: It features both science-fiction and fantasy trappings. Basically, Charles Wallace and Meg's father, a scientist, has gone missing. Turns out he and his colleagues were fooling around with a technique that involves folding space somehow. It isn't spelled out, explicitly, exactly how they were doing this, but that doesn't matter -- the point is that the kids' father is nowhere to be found, and in the town where the family lives, ugly rumors are going around, including one that has the dad leaving the children's beautiful mother for another woman.
The setting: I don't want to say too much about it for fear of spoiling the story, but I'll just write that the planet to which we travel as readers is dark, menacing, even a bit frightening for younger readers. It's also incredibly detailed and well-imagined.
I am in my 50s now, but I STILL think about this book and re-read it from time to time. It's an absolute classic.
on February 6, 2001
I am now in the middle of the first sequel to this book, going through the Time Quartet (don't understand why it isn't called the TIME QUINTET, the only logic I can come up with is AN ACCEPTABLE TIME deals with Polly and not one of the four Murry children) for the first time. A WRINKLE IN TIME is one of those books that have a sterling reputation, and a book I had been meaning to read for a long time. It was worth the wait, being one of the most memorable and unusual books I've read. For you old school gamers, perhaps Mother Brain off Metroid came from the villain here? Just a thought.
The story is tightly written, very good buildup of characters, dominant themes very apparent (acceptance, curiosity, and very importantly: love), plausible resolution. All the characters are very memorable, people you would love to meet in real life. Charles Wallace is one of the most intriguing of all characters I have met in literature, and it's a shame we don't get to see more of the REAL C. W. (to those of you who have read the book you know what I mean). The images and story are so diverse, so far reaching I consumed the story rather quickly. To those of you familiar with C. S. Lewis, he said one of the purposes of literature, and primarily myth, is to give you `stabs of joy', awaken a spiritually yearning that ultimately is consummated in the character of Christ Jesus. This book is myth. I wanted to go to the land of the centaurs and bask in that glory. This story awakens a longing and a yearning for things of the supernatural. It certainly did for me.
I would end it at that, but I do have some issues or problems with this book. One largely rests in the fact that the three Mrs. Ws are maintaining the illusion of haunting and witchcraft to scare away people. No angles of God would do this, as described in the book, for "a joke" (its in the passage where Meg is attempting to help Charles Wallace at Camazots). I do not object to magic in literature depending on how it is handled. But I do object to this simply because they are painted as such wonderful servants of God, and there's the whole feel to the book of goodness and holiness, and then this element which for me goes completely against everything L'Engle otherwise consistently maintains in this work.
Another is the inclusion of The Happy Medium. Medium is generally associated with sorcery and evil, and wish she had chosen a better title for her than this.
Yet another is the feeling of universalism that predominates a particular passage in the book where Charles Wallace is describing the heroes who have fought against the encroaching darkness. One is Jesus. Since the book plays with the time element extensively, L'Engle should have said the Jesus won the battle already, even though we must fight it. This I do not hold against L'Engle, simply because the doctrine is complex and very difficult to understand, but I do resent the inclusion of Buddha as one of the people who have fought against the darkness, which, oddly, is included a few lines down with a lists of artists. My own thoughts on universalism are clouded (no, I do not believe full-blown universalism: the one I waiver back and forth with is found in THE LAST BATTLE). But Buddhism is a false religion, and he did not fight the darkness, although he had been deceived into thinking he had.
While, for me, those things I've cited above do detract from this book, the story is wonderful, and one of the most remarkable books I've read. You will be changed by this book if you allow yourself to be. It's such an unusual book. I just soaked it up. Well done, L'Engle.
Another impression I have of L'Engle, and which she herself supports, she has a very large curiosity about the world. There's a definite shift from NARNIA to WRINKLE. With Lewis you feel like he's an uncle telling you this wonderful story, but he's wise. With L'Engle, you get the feeling she's just as amazed at this world that's been uncovered as you are. In an interview with L'Engle here on Amazon, she said Lewis had a lot more answers, and she had a lot more questions. Lets see what she can turn up.
(P. S. Have you seen those dreadful illustrations, the cover art, to the other paperback edition? That edition has the three children standing in an egg-shaped circle with a white creature flying over. They are much to young looking for this book - I don't like the cover art at all on those. I much prefer the one with the centaur on the cover or the hardback edition).