Thursday, March 22, 2012

Educate Emma: Books: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Dust Jacket Description:

"It is a dark and stormy night. Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother are in the kitchen for a midnight snack when a most disturbing visitor arrives.

'Wild nights are my glory,' the unearthly stranger tells them. 'I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.'

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit and overpower the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?"

Yes, this is my first time reading A Wrinkle In Time. My father was blamed for never introducing me properly to Led Zeppelin, so I can blame my mother for never giving me Madeleine L'Engle. Most of my issues with A Wrinkle In Time would have been minimal if I had read the book when I was younger, but I'm glad I read it now rather than I was older. I have the feeling this could have been one of my favourites as Tiny!Emma if I had experienced it earlier.

I adored Meg. Seeing a strong female character is a joy, but one who is impatient, stubborn, fiercely loyal and also intelligent is a special kind of delight. I loved how she was put at the forefront of the story and her faults were spot on. Usually the imperfections Meg possesses would annoy me, but L'Engle gets the writing just right. I wanted to hold fast to all of Meg's personality traits. Meg actually reminded me a lot Harry Potter in terms of character.

Charles Wallace and Calvin were great. I loved how each personality was distinct, despite the amount of characters in the novel. Charles Wallace creeped me out earlier on in the story, but I grew fond of his observance and gentility. Calvin was also total perfection. I wish I had seen more dynamic between him and the Murry family earlier in the story. While L'Engle makes Calvin's abrupt entrance natural, I needed a bit more of his emotions and personality to fully feel like his introduction fit the story. Calvin's interactions with Meg made me smile on multiple occasions, and I was impressed that L'Engle got his entrance to feel organic at all.

It's a small component of the story, but I also like what L'Engle did with Meg's perception of her father. Mrs Who, Whatsit and Which were divine characters. It took me a while to differentiate between them all, but there are clear differences. Relationships felt real, magical, and tangible. I can tell I'll be rereading this in the years to come. 4 and a half flowers.

Sometimes I grew aggravated with L'Engle rhetorical questions, but the way she describes the planets the characters visit is marvelous. Her tone is hard to place, but it's this mix of sci-fi and fantasy realism that I want to hold onto. 4 and a half flowers.

I love being inside of a book and knowing that I'll need more of the story after I leave it. World building is brilliant and the complex world L'Engle crafts is one I want to stay in for a long time. It's rare that Christianity in children's novels isn't preachy, boring or obnoxious. L'Engle pulls it off thanks to her strong, multifaceted characterization. The passages of the Bible she decides to use are powerful in reasonable, important ways, and so I actually enjoyed that layer of the story. Pacing was perfect for the story, too. My biggest issue was the simplification of good and evil. After resonating with Sylvia Plath's passage in The Bell Jar about shadows being the most beautiful thing in the world, it was hard for me to emotionally believe The Dark Thing's significance. This one pet peeve has more to do with my adolescent age than the text itself, but it did take me out of the text once or twice. Besides that, this is amazingly crafted and I want to get my hands on the sequel soon. 4 flowers for me, but four and a half for everything else.

A little fast, but fitting. 4 and a half flowers.

Dust Jacket Description:
Calling Calvin a friend seems to be inaccurate, but it feels old and epic. It has the tone of the novel. 4 flowers.

This cover is so awful, it's awesome. At least the physical traits are accurate, and I love smelling used book store on the pages. 4 flowers.

I see why this story is so well treasured. Its strong characters and world-building make it compelling, and L'Engle's writes difficult angles and story elements with ease. I now fully understand L'Engle's quote about writing the most complex stories for children rather than adults. This is a gift of a novel. 4 and a half flowers.


  1. Ah! I've read this back *years* ago, and it's delightful to see a review on it! I was very young, and I don't remember too much about it, but I believe that you've made excellent points, and I agree about how wonderful of a novel it is. Cheers! -Jamie

  2. Gah! Not all of us have read this book -- the ones who have love it -- so the others definitely need to check it out. Reading your review is like hearing about the best new restaurant in town: our mouths are watering!