Monday, 16 June 2014

'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle (1962)

Synopsis: A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in The Time Quintet. On a dark and stormy night, an old and very odd woman called Mrs Whatsit takes shelter in the Murry household. Before leaving she casually informs Mrs Murry that "there is such a thing as a tesseract". Mrs Murry's teenage daughter Meg suspects that this tesseract has something to do with her father who mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Before then her father worked as a scientist and was doing top-secret work for the United States government. Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace and their new friend Calvin O'Keefe then go off to seek answers from Mrs Whatsit and her two friends, Mrs Who and Mrs Which. These women soon whisk the kids off on an adventure across space and time, where they encounter alien planets and creatures. The fate of Mr Murry depends upon Meg and her companions being able to outwit the forces of evil.

A Wrinkle in Time starts off with quite possibly the most cliched opening sentence ever ("It was a dark and stormy night") but thankfully everything that comes after that is terrific. I loved this book. A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most beloved children's books of all time and I really feel that I missed out by not reading it as a child. It's suspenseful, imaginative, atmospheric, beautifully-written, touching and full of adventure. The characters are likeable and engaging. The three Mrs W's are kind, eccentric, and utterly mysterious. Charles Wallace is a child genius who is nowhere near as annoying as he had the potential to be. Meg is clever, strong, caring, brave and a loving sister. Calvin is a good-looking, popular jock who - very refreshingly! - isn't stupid and doesn't start the story off as a complete ass. He's also discerning and fiercely loyal.

A Wrinkle in Time is simple and yet deeply profound as all of the best children's books are. It promotes individuality, intellectual curiosity, bravery, love and goodness. It lets children know that their parents aren't perfect and will make mistakes. It shows that, in the right situations, your flaws can sometimes be your strengths. The book also carries a very strong Christian message - I'd put it on the same level as C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. Jesus's name is mentioned and it contains some scripture and Christian symbolism. As a matter of fact, A Wrinkle of Time frequently finds its way onto banned and challenged book lists. Some readers object to the book because they think it's too Christian whereas other readers believe that it's not Christian enough. There are certain Christians who object to a section where Jesus's name is mentioned alongside historical individuals, including Gandhi and Buddha, who have all fought for good. Well, I loved this section and it was actually one of my favourite parts of the book! God loves everyone and His grace and truth can be found in all people and cultures! A Wrinkle in Time has so many beautiful and positive messages that the fact that it's a frequently challenged book is downright tragic :(

Before I wrap up this review, I feel like mentioning that Disney produced a made-for-TV movie adaptation of this book that came out almost 10 years ago. I've not seen this movie myself but the trailer looks terrible, I've read terrible reviews for it, and Madeleine L'Engle herself hated it. A Wrinkle in Time could make for a wonderful movie in the right hands though. Someone should give JJ Abrams a call once he's wrapped up the new Star Wars trilogy :)

Rating: 5/5

P.S. Here's a bonus reason to read A Wrinkle in Time: Sawyer read it on Lost :)

P.P.S. Also, Whovians should definitely check this book out! As a friend of mine pointed out, this book is a brilliant blend of sci-fi and fantasy and is full of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ness :)


samara said...

Oh I'm so glad you liked it!! I owe myself an adult re-read one of these days. I just read The Giver and I felt like it was mostly a writing exercises in exploring one of the worlds they visit in Wrinkle in Time. And yes, lots of wibbly-wobbly :D

Hannah said...

I'm glad I liked it too! Thanks for writing the review that made me want to read it in the first place :)

Mònica said...

I know this comment is rather redundant, but I read this a few years ago, and I really enjoyed it too. :D

Hamlette said...

I read this as a teenager and was underwhelmed. But next year I'm going to challenge myself to begin reading all the books Sawyer read (or at least try them all), and perhaps I'll like it better this time around.

Hannah said...

Monica - Thanks for the comment. It's always lovely to know that other people enjoy the same books as you :)

Hamlette - A Sawyer Book Club?! I love that idea! :D And I hope you'll enjoy the book more this time around.

Hamlette said...

I hadn't thought of a Sawyer book club, but that might be fun too! We'll see :-D I know there are lists available online of all the books he reads, all the books referenced in the show, etc.