Year of Publication: 1962
Genre: Fantasy (Middle Grade)
Format (How I Read It): Paperback
It was a dark and stormy night.
Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe.
Winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in Madeleine L’Engle’s classic Time Quintet.
“Beware of pride and arrogance, Charles, for they may betray you.”
Themes: Fight the darkness within and around you. The ability to communicate is a gift. Embrace your faults. Know what you don’t know. Love conquers all. Be yourself.
Character Development: I struggled with the characters and their development in this book. In general, I found the main character, Meg, really annoying and off-putting. She just seemed to absolutely hate herself. She was constantly commenting on how ugly and stupid she was, and I just found it to be so over the top. I think it’s fine to have characters who lack confidence and develop it throughout the journey (which she did), but this was too overexaggerated for me. Also, there was a little romance between Meg and her friend Calvin that just happened really abruptly and seemed really out of place (especially for a middle grade novel). I think it would have been better to see her develop a strong friendship rather than a romantic relationship.
Plot/Pacing: I found the first 1/3 or so (maybe even the first 1/2) to be pretty interesting. It was a unique concept and some of the minor characters that were introduced were quirky and fun, but it kind of slowed down after that. It felt repetitive at times, the main character whined a lot, and the ending was really anti-climactic.
Writing Style: I thought the writing was fairly whimsical, but overall not anything too memorable or outstanding.
“Bingeability”: Moderate. It’s not very long, and you will want to know what happens, which will keep you reading.
Emotional Investment: Low. The characters got on my nerves too much for me to be too emotionally invested.
Windows and Mirrors: Low self-esteem.
“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.”
Overall Thoughts: This may be an unpopular opinion, but I wasn’t a big fan of this one. The ending was resolved too quickly and was anti-climactic. There were some religious undertones that seemed kind of out of place, although it was interesting to see the juxtaposition of religious ideas with scientific ones. I also thought that some of the themes and symbols were a little bit muddled. For example, they were trying to fight the darkness before it took over, but they were also on a planet that was being controlled by a giant brain called “IT” (who took away everyone’s free will), whom she defeated with the power of love. Also, the darkness was supposed to represent all evil (and basically any and all negative things that humans experience), so when they defeated the darkness… Was everything on Earth just idyllic? I know this is a series, so maybe this is explored in subsequent books, but I just never fully understood exactly what they were trying to accomplish (other than rescuing her dad). I like the idea of fighting darkness and evil with love, but I just thought the execution was confusing. Finally, considering this was written in the ’60s, a lot of the language is really outdated, which could be confusing for kids today (especially kids who are emergent bilinguals and are learning English as a second language).
I will say, though, that the book was SO much better than the recent movie adaptation. Yikes.
Recommendation: I would keep this in my classroom as an option for independent reading, but that’s it as far as classroom use goes. For adults to use with children at home, it’s up to you! There’s nothing wrong with this book, it just really wasn’t for me. If it holds a special place in your heart and you want to share it with your kids, go for it! I think this could be a great family read-aloud if you think it would be the right fit for your family.
Thank you for reading my review! Leave a comment letting me know if you’ve read this one or have any questions about it, and keep an eye out for my next review!