by Madeleine L’Engle
Unconditional Recommendation: With classic themes of family, friendship, courage, self-acceptance, and good triumphing over evil, this book is a mind-bending sci-fi fantasy sure to stretch the reader’s imagination.
Award: John Newberry Award
I had recently read that this book is considered a children’s classic and, never having picked it up as a kid, was curious to see what it was about. It’s unique: I haven’t read anything quite like it. It reminds me of the movies by Studio Ghibli like Spirited Away and their rendition of Howl’s Moving Castle. The closest book comparison would be to The Chronicles of Narnia as the story follows a specific family on their fantasy adventures in other worlds; however, that is where the similarities end.
A Wrinkle in Time starts with the iconic “It was a dark and stormy night…” and introduces you to the Murry family: the genius scientist father, biologist mother, spunky female protagonist, Meg, oddly intelligent younger brother, Charles Wallace, and their gawky school friend, Calvin. Meg’s father has disappeared while working on a top-secret government project and Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin with the help of some mysterious friends, Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which, travel through space and time to other worlds in order to find and save their father.
As a young kid, adults often talk about subjects that go right over your head and this book emulates that childhood ignorance: I understand the words you are speaking but I don’t know what you mean. And that’s okay! It is a wonderful aspect of childhood to be in some ways limited in your understanding of the real world and yet unlimited in your imagination. I feel that this book takes that concept and runs with it. You may not understand the concepts, creatures, and worlds the kids experience but you will understand the Murry family and their friendships, choices, and goals.
That being said, I should give you a tip as to how to read this book: don’t overthink it. You’ll suck the enjoyment right out of it! I picked up this book having no idea of what I was getting into and I tried to read into it and I really didn’t get hooked into the story until halfway through the book because I was trying too hard. If I were to do it over I’d approach it as a fantasy and accept that not every concept is going to be explained—this will allow you to enjoy the story and the characters so much more. Otherwise, like me, you may have trouble getting into it and may tire of trying to “figure it out.” The best course of action? Get lost in the fantasy!
Over the years, A Wrinkle in Time has inspired much discussion among every age of reader because it contains seemingly contrasting elements: fantasy, science, and Christianity. Madeleine L’Engle is a proclaimed Christian writer and throughout the book you will find references and direct quotes from the Bible woven alongside quotes from scientists and philosophers. Is it a commentary on Christian values? On science? Does it make a philosophical point? I have no idea. What I do know is that this book is simply excellent for the imagination and would also provide good topics of discussion if read aloud. And I believe the characters (I love Charles Wallace!) are wonderful and their interactions with one another are realistic and admirable. All in all, though different, though weird and sometimes confusing, I think this book is worth reading, worth letting your mental inhibitions go and your imagination stretch.
Including classic themes of family, friendship, courage, self-acceptance, and good triumphing over evil, this book is a mind-bending fantasy sure to stretch the reader’s imagination while causing you to falling in love with the timeless quirky characters along the way. If you enjoy fantasy or would like something that steps out of the normal box, I hope you give this book a try!
At this time, I haven’t read the rest of the Time Quintet series.
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