“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle

Book Reviews 13 Comments 12th July, 2011

“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Series: Time Quintet #1
Published by Bantam in 1973
Genres: Children's, Science Fiction
Pages: 211
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
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Yes, this is a throwback to my childhood.  “A Wrinkle in Time” was one of those books that was inspirational to me as a kid.

The book is centered upon the Murray family, whose members are all awesome and nerdy.  There’s Meg, who is a misfit and doesn’t do well at school because she thinks differently than other people.  Charles Wallace is a child genius who didn’t talk until he was four, but at five speaks like an eloquent adult.  Mr. and Mrs. Murray both have several PHDs.  I am jealous of their PHDs.  I’ll be lucky if I ever get one!

Mr. Murry disappears while working on a government project called a tesseract, which involves the fourth dimension.  Meg and Charles Wallace meet up with three angel-like beings who help them in their quest to find their father.  On the way, it is revealed that there is a dark mass centered over their universe, and that various historical figures were fighters against this darkness.  The kids travel to a creepy planet called Camazotz, where all people share one consciousness in the attempt to be perfect.  On Camazotz, citizens have no free will.  Mr. Murray is being held captive because he refuses to submit to the conditioning that would make him a part of the Camazotz collective.

The book really does tackle a lot of deep issues, especially since it’s meant for kids.  There is a theological element that kind of reminds me of C.S. Lewis, with very clear elements of good versus evil.  At the same time, something I loved was the way that L’Engle manages to present both religion and science in such a way that the two don’t contradict each other.  I was impressed that although L’Engle is Christian, she counts major figures (ie. Buddha) as people who were major fighters against the darkness.  Even though L’Engle writes for a younger audience, she doesn’t dumb herself down, but instead assumes that her audience is intelligent and capable of thought.

13 Responses to ““A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle”

  1. TBM

    This sounds like an interesting work. I’m curious about the various historical figures…I’m a history nerd. Mention history and I’m hooked.

  2. Ask the DM

    i reread this again pretty recently and was actually a bit shocked at the blatant christian theology in it. while there’s not a closed minded approach of “christianity is the best” present, i couldn’t help but be reminded of eastern religion and philosophy with the people of camazotz. the idea of sharing a single consciouness and a world free of individuals and boundaries is very hindu and buddhist feeling. perhaps it wasn’t an intentional jab at any of those though.

    • Grace

      I saw the single consciousness thing as more of a symptom of the time period in which the book was written. Since it was first published in 62, that gives it a Cold War backdrop. I saw Camazotz as more of a representation of communism rather than Eastern religions.

      I think what I liked most about the book as a kid was that the characters were all nerds who had trouble in school, but that they came out okay in the end. I didn’t see much of that in books that I read at that age, and it was encouraging.

  3. Skye

    I was surprised to see this on a banned book list. I also saw this book on a list for favorite redheads. Lol.

    • Richard

      It mainly due to the, “liberal” use of religion mainly Christian theology. Which upsets people way too much I guess. The book was banned also on the grounds for having females in male roles at the time.

  4. Richard

    I read this book and the rest of the three novels when I was thirteen. The novel was also dystopian and serial of how it viewed society. All the children were expected to be automaton. I recall one of the children who did not bounce the ball in sync with the others was sent away to be reeducated.

    The book deals with seeing a world via thought and not to forgo its use. Sight alone can’t be relied upon. It also deals with religion.

    I like the novel and the novel was almost never published since the protagonist was a female and the secondary characters mother has a PHD in quantum physics.

    • Grace

      I actually really liked that the protagonist was female, and I wanted to be like Mrs. Murray when I grew up. It was good at the age that I first read it to see female geeks who are awesome, because it’s really not encouraged by society.

      • Richard

        I recall Mrs. Murry looked good, and showed contrast of teenage growing up. Meg looked ugly since she was still going through puberty.

  5. csp

    I guess this is as odd as it is good place to leave this–yes, I loved this book too. It might’ve been odd for me to identify with Meg, but the superficial differences were no problem. She was just a really good geek, and it’s strange that there are (or were, to be more precise) so few good geek characters. Also the religious elements were liberating because they were faithful without being dogmatic.

    A fantasy book you might enjoy is Deathless by Catheryn Valente, and is a re-telling of the Russian folktale of Marya Morevna.

    • Grace

      I shall have to check that out. Russian folktales are always promising.

      We need more strong geeky characters in the world. I loved the way that Madeline L’Engle’s characters had brains, but were still complex and adventurous.

  6. Thérèse Michelle

    One of my favorites from my childhood. I love when children/young adult writers do not dumb down their books. Young people are capable of much deeper thoughts than most adults realise.

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