Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time (1963)

I couldn't decide on one book cover picture, and this one came in a three-pack combo...Even so, the cover of the book I read is different from these.

This is one of my favorites so far!  I remember reading it as a child and liking it and this re-read fulfilled my expectations.  It celebrates a 50 year anniversary this year.  Happy Birthday, A Wrinkle in Time!

One of the first things that caught my attention was the opening line.  "It was a dark and stormy night."  Classic.  But listen to the next paragraph.  "In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind.  Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky.  Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground."(p. 3)  Isn't that just great?!  L'Engle's writing is just super.  She did not write down to the young target audience, but brought them up.

The letters Meg's father have been sending have stopped.  He has been missing for at least a year, the government isn't telling the family anything and no body knows where he is.  Meg is very defensive and has a difficult time getting along in school and with her peers.  Her youngest brother, Charles Wallace, is just four years old but has a wisdom well beyond his years.  They, along with a new friend Calvin, have to rescue Mr. Murry. 

With the help of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, I would describe them as angels, the three children "tesser" to another planet where Mr. Murry is imprisoned.  Tessering is a way of time/space travel in which space is bent or wrinkled and therefore takes much less travel time.  Before they arrive at their destination, they make a rest stop and are shown a dark shadow covering some planets.  '"But what is it?" Charles Wallace demanded. "We know that it's evil, but what is it?" YYouu hhave ssaidd itt!" Mrs. Which's voice rang out.  "Itt iss Eevill.  Itt iss thee Ppowers of Ddarrkknesss!"  Earth is in the shadow, but many have been fighting it."  "Who have our fighters been?" Calvin asked.  "Oh, You must know them dear...And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not."  "Jesus!" Charles Wallace said.  "Why of course, Jesus!" (p. 88-89)

The planet Camazotz is much how I imagine Satan's plan for our "salvation," with no choices or free will (agency).  Charles Wallace, in trying to understand the system, gets drawn into it.  He argues with Meg about the merits of this new place."In the dark is correct,"Charles continued. "They want us to go on being confused instead of properly organized."  Meg shook her head violently. "NO!" she shouted. "I know our world isn't perfect, Charles, but it's better than this.  This isn't the only alternative! It can't be!" "Nobody suffers here...Nobody is ever unhappy." Charles intoned.  "But nobody's ever happy, either," Meg said earnestly. "Maybe if you aren't unhappy sometimes you don't know how to be happy." (p 142)

The only thing I didn't like was that Meg often seemed whiney. I bet that if I were in her shoes I would whine too. A definite must-read.

Here are some other quotes I liked.
Mrs. Murry to Meg.  "I don't understand it any more than you do, but one thing I've learned is that you don't have to understand things for them to be." (p. 23)

Again Mrs. Murry.  "I think that with our human limitations we're not always able to understand the explanations.  But you see, Meg, just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist." (p. 46)

Meg fighting the evil on Camazotz.  "Her body trembled with the strength of her hatred and the strength of IT. With the last vestige of consciousness she jerked her mind and body.  Hate was nothing that IT didn't have.  It knew all about hate....Suddenly she knew.  She knew!!  Love.  That was what she had that IT did not have." (p. 207)

This is a link to an article about the book, or you can listen to a piece about it.  8 minutes long.

L'Engle, Madeleine.  A Wrinkle in Time.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc.,1962.


  1. I also read this book as a youngster and remember liking it. This might be one that I read with the kids.

  2. I loved this one, too, but sadly when I tried to read it again when Kylie received a copy as a gift, I couldn't force myself to get through it. I gave up at about halfway through and have decided it's just better in my memory.