Classic Review – A Wrinkle in Time (1962)

Book cover with gilded words

Overview

Synopsis It was a dark and stormy night. Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they are upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger who knows too much about the family. Meg's father had been experimenting with a 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. They must outwit the forces of evil they encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space.

Author Madeleine L'Engle
Publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Genre Science Fiction, Fantasy

Length 211 pages

Release Date March 1962

Madeleine L’Engle is a young adult fiction writer whose stories are inspired by her Christian faith and her love of science. During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, L’Engle wrote dozens of books for children and adults. She is best known for writing A Wrinkle In Time, the first book in her Time Quintet series. Originally published in 1962, this book has inspired theater productions and two movie adaptions, including one film to be released in March 2018 starring Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine.

Content Guide

Violence: Meg is described as quite aggressively protective of her family and is often in trouble for talking back, rudeness, and, in one instance, beating up another student, although the incidents are only mentioned. An unnamed boy is seen being conditionally trained using electric shock. A boy kicks at someone to revive them from unconsciousness.

Sexual Content: Two characters kiss. A character kisses another on the cheek.

Drug/Alcohol Use: None.

Spiritual Content: There are strong themes of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, and love vs. hate. People through history are mentioned as heroes fighting against the impending darkness. The song heard on Uriel is translated using a hymn found in the book of Isaiah.

Language/Crude Humor: Some instances of moron, jerk, d**n, and other lower impact name-calling.

Other Negative Content: The story has an underlying sinister tone that is coupled with the exploration of the unknown. A character is scolded for stealing bed sheets.

Positive Content: While the characters would like to react with violence and power in order to defeat the enemy, they learn that evil can only respond with more evil and that the darkness in the universe can only be overcome by love.

Review

Meg just wants to be like the other kids in school. She wishes she wasn’t so smart, her little brother wasn’t so peculiar, and that her father would come home. After going off for some confidential project for his government-level physicist job, he disappears without word or a trace. One stormy night, her family is visited by a homeless person named Ms. Whatsit. She is dressed in rags and happens to be a friend of Meg’s youngest brother, Charles Wallace. After a short rest, the woman leaves with a dire message, “There is such a thing as a tesseract.”

The next day, Charles Wallace invites Meg and Calvin, a popular boy from school whom they came across in the woods, to Ms. Whatsit’s house where they meet Ms. Who and Ms. Which. The women inform them that they have come for their help to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace’s father, who had learned to travel through space using “tessers” or “wrinkles in time” and had become trapped on a planet consumed by a dark force. Terrified, but wanting to bring their father home, the children travel across space and time to learn about this mysterious shadow that is the embodiment of evil, the goodness and prosperity that still thrives, and how to use both their talents and flaws to overcome it all.

A Wrinkle in Time was published in 1962 and has beguiled audiences of all ages. While the story is a whimsical tale often alluding to different philosophies, it also introduces mathematical principles which were at the time only theories and thought experiments. In a way, the story brings together abstract philosophy and logical reasoning, creating an overall theme that we need both in order to improve society and humanity. Too much logic, and we become a society of robotic people with all the same characteristics and behaviors. Too much philosophy, and we become caught up in our own issues, unable to see past our own egos or be productive.

This major theme can be seen by comparing the two worlds that the characters travel to. One is a Utopian society with no wars or conflict, but all the people are similar to robots, reacting with programmed responses and acting as if controlled by one being. The other is also a peaceful and tranquil planet, but the air is very foggy, representing the metaphor of not being able to see past your own nose. The residents spend their time singing and reflecting on their thoughts, and they escape the “Shadow” by neither acting for or against it.

Both worlds are considered peaceful and perfect societies, but there are massive flaws that inhibit the progression of humanity. On one hand, by inhibiting individualism, they are only capable of maintaining their current state and moving towards a predicted outcome while enslaving millions. On the other hand, by rejecting reason and choosing to not act as a way to keep peace, evil is allowed to flourish and continue growing until their illusion of protection is shown to be folly.

My second favorite them of this book is learning how to accept and utilize both your strengths and weaknesses. When the children are first sent to the planet to rescue their father, the three women explain to them that their flaws are just as valuable as their talents. For example, Meg was able to resist the influence of the darkness because of her stubbornness and anger towards people who hurt her and her family. Her intelligence and dedication to saving her father helped her reach their goal, but it was ultimately her biggest flaw that saved her life.

This reflects the Bible verse 2 Corinthians 12:9:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

We have strengths and talents to help build the kingdom of the Lord, but it’s in our weaknesses that we bring glory to God.

While there are many themes alluding to good vs. evil, knowledge vs. intelligence, and language vs. intention, the philosophy vs. logic and seeing flaws as significant are what made the book have an impact on me. Although written as a children’s story, the book can be enjoyed by all ages, and may even challenge what you believe.

Positives

+ Challenges your outlook
+ Easy storyline with complex themes
+ Suitable for all ages

Negatives

- Writing style is outdated
- Very blunt with the purpose of the story
- While suitable for all ages, the themes may be too complex for very young readers

The Bottom Line

"A Wrinkle in Time" is a story for all ages about why balance is key, wisdom is as important as intelligence, and love overcomes evil.

 

Story/Plot 8.5

Writing 9

Editing 7

8.2

Jennifer Hicklin

Jenni is a graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in business and currently works as a Product Analyst. Paired with her passion for reading, she hopes to one day open her own bookstore and share her love of a good story with others through reviews and podcasts. She also enjoys cosplaying, prop building, hiking, camping, rpgs, platformers, and anything that includes pizza.

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