A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1)

ISBN: 0312367546
ISBN 13: 9780312367541
By: Madeleine L'Engle Anna Quindlen

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Childrens Classics Currently Reading Fantasy Favorites Fiction Sci Fi Science Fiction To Read Young Adult

About this book

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger."Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem. A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

Reader's Thoughts

Eileen Dougherty

As a child, this book opened up new worlds to me, quite literally almost, that I had never imagined. Madeline L'Engle became a goddess who guided me through the imagination using science as a light. Not that I grew up to be a rocket scientist or anything, but this book really electrifies the mind with its possibilities and bends preconceivced thought regarding reality, devotion and love. Last year, I read it again to my son. It was a new discovery to re-read it as an adult as well as being able to witness its magic working on my son. One of the most wonderful qualities of this book is its treatment of children. They are not to be "seen and not heard" nor are they swept aside by the adults. They are valuable, intellgent, in fact quite gifted, quirky and excruciatingly brave. There are so many layers to this intelligent and beautiful book that appeal to all ages. Madeline L'Engle is a master of literature. If you missed this book as a child, I urge you to read it again as an adult.

Jill

This classic novel for middle graders begins on "a dark and stormy night." Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and her mother, a scientist, are in the kitchen having a midnight snack when a strange visitor shows up at their door. Soon after, this visitor, Mrs. Whatist, takes Meg, Charles Wallace, and their schoolmate, Calvin, on a dangerous journey to save Meg and Charles Wallace's father, a scientist who has been missing for over a year.A Wrinkle in Time has been a favorite of children for many years. Because I never read it as a child, I'm not sure if my opinion about it would be different. For example, I recently reread The Chronicles of Narnia, a series that I read multiple times when I was a child. While I observed some shortcomings in the books and was bothered by the religious undertones I never seemed to notice when I was a child, I thoroughly enjoyed rereading them as an adult and getting reacquainted with familiar characters and plots.Maybe I would have felt the same with A Wrinkle in Time. However, after reading it for the first time as an adult, it was just okay.I loved the characters…kind hearted Meg, the exceptionally bright Charles Wallace, down-to-earth Calvin, and the quirky Mrs. Whatist. The plot full of magic, space travel, suspense and mystery is good enough to get a child hooked on sci-fi/fantasy. The dark and frightening climax when Meg is fighting "It", the disembodied brain, will keep kids on the edge of their seats, and I think many will be eager to read the other four novels in the quintet.What bothered me though was the lack of detail I would have liked to have seen more of. I wanted to know more about Mrs. Whatist and company and more about Aunt Beast, the furry creature that saves Meg's life. I would have liked to have seen the aftermath of Meg's defeat of "It" on Camazotz. Were the people freed? Was "It" destroyed? Granted, this may be revealed in a later novel in the series, but I did wish that there was a little more background information.The other thing I had a hard time getting past was L'Engle's religious messaging. I admit that I'm uber-sensitive about having religious messaging in children's books that aren't advertised as religious-themed books. I feel that it alienates children of different faiths and is unnecessary in mainstream stories like this, especially when it adds nothing to the storyline. This has been a contentious issue since the book's publication, and L'Engle herself has always claimed that she talks about faith, not religion. I remain skeptical about that.But religion aside, I do think it's a book that many children will enjoy. Because there are some frightening situations, I do not recommend it as a read aloud to younger children. I think grades 5-7 would be the appropriate age range.

Keith Mukai

This is a short, easy read that rates a 4.4 on the Flesch-Kincaid reading index (meaning that it requires a 4th-5th grade reading level). But that's based strictly on the sentence structure, vocabulary, paragraph size, etc.What the stats don't cover is the depth of feeling and the profound scope and meaning in this book. Madeleine L'Engle's sentences may be rather simple but her notions of good, evil, love, and devotion are taken to a cosmic level (literally). This isn't mere sci-fi or fantasy; it's gorgeous, breathtaking Humanism. L'Engle never talks down to her child/young adult audience; though she aims at their level there are plenty of weighty, inspiring themes for adults to savor. The child-centric focus gives it a level of simplicity, yes, but also a kind of intense purity. She brilliantly weaves in issues relating to childhood, adolescence, parent-child relationships, maturation, acceptance, social stigma--all of which make the book utterly relatable, even when the kids are transplanted to fantastic or awful new planets in far off galaxies.There are some religious overtones, but they're really more cosmic than religious (even the stars in the galaxy are fighting the great darkness). She uses some of the language of Christianity to express her notion of universal love, but I don't think that should be seen as making this a Christian text. As an agnostic-bordering-on-atheist none of the language turned me off. Christians are free to embrace it as a wildly expansive view of Christianity but non-believers should be able to see that she has a vision that goes beyond the language used.I can't do the book full justice here. Just pick it up and engross yourself in it. It's only about a 4 hour read for most adults and easily well worth it.Do enjoy.

Prospero Zaccarias

For those looking for a TLDR version of my review, I can sum up this book in one word:Pulp.If allowed, I might also add:Meh.If A Wrinkle in Time were not lauded as a classic, and were instead given the far more accurate description of Christian pulp fantasy, I wouldn't have an issue with the book. After all, no one complains about flank steak until you try to pass it off as a prime cut. Everything about the book is pulp: the prose, the character, the plot, the dozens of contrivances only acceptable to an uninquisitive mind. It has a lot in common with those trashy vacation reads where the reader is silently prodded to just go with it so they can get the emotional pay off of a patently absurd climax and resolution. It might entertain - though I wasn't - but it cannot be called good.The prose is particularly inexcusable exactly because it won an award; the 60's really must have been a different time if lines like, 'something like a horse but at the same time completely unlike a horse,' could win you awards. Description like this is lazy, and endemic in the book. Either it's like a horse, or it's not; imagine your confusion if someone said, 'I saw this guy on the street, you looked just like you, except completely not like you.' And when she's not using the 'somehow' school of description to get around whatever deficiency prevents her from actually using words, L'Engle falls back on the tried and true school of tell not show:'There was something about the way he said "IT" that made a shiver run up and down Meg's spine.'Did he wave his hands around? Did you use a spooky high pitched voice? Was he communicating fear? Awe? An awkwardly sincere veneration? I teach fifth graders who have better descriptions than this. And while we're on the topic of lazy, there is exactly zero character development in the book. Characters are essentially the same people at every stage of the book, no matter where they go. After being whisked away by weird old ladies to an alien world, where they fly on the back of a cenaugusus into space the kids are ... exactly the same. I get that it's a kid's book, and it's not meant to have the deep psychological realism of mature writing, but that's the best we can do for character reaction? No panicking, no freaking out, no crying to go home, just characters going with it because that's how we advance the plot. What's particularly ironic is L'Engle's (mis)use of tesseracts when she can't even get her characters to have two dimensions. Take, for instance, Calvin. He meets Meg and Charles for the first time, having heard all manner of nasty rumors about them, and within twenty minutes is saying:'"Lead on, moron," Calvin cried gaily. "I've never even seen your house, and I have the funniest feeling that for the first time in my life I'm going home!"'Meg gets into fights at school on a regular basis, and clearly has no problem decking boys, so why is he letting some gangly, red haired punk call her little brother - who she will eventually risk her own life to save - a moron less than an hour after they met? No matter, though, because Calvin is instantly welcomed into the home and reads Charles a bedtime story. Because that's how we advance the plot.And speaking of the plot, I won't bother to review it, when the Noising Machine's blog did it better than I:The story revolves around a family of superior people. Each family member is quite intelligent, perhaps genius. At least one of the children is a telepath but his mother, supposedly a scientist, seems totally uninterested in understanding his ability. Not only is the family superior in intellect but in manners and wisdom. The rest of the town gossips, while these wunderkinds are content to let people think they are stupid or freakish. The youngest child, although only five, has the vocabulary of a college student even though he can’t read. His insights are incredibly mature, as well – in fact, there is practically nothing about him that is believable in any way. (http://thenoisingmachine.wordpress.co...)The ethnocentric bias of the book is palpable and embarrassing, and dates the book to an age when American authors wrote for an American made of WASP's and no one else. All characters are White; yes, ALL of them. On the other side of the galaxy we find ... White people. The least she could have done is throw in a babelfish, or translator microbes, or the f-ing Tardis translating languages for you. The kids are whipped around space by magical women, they could have just cast a spell to translate all languages and breathe all atmospheres. But instead, it just sits there, reinforcing the idea that everywhere you go is America(tm). And speaking of the magical women, why are they all married? They're not married, so shouldn't they be Ms? It seems trivial, but it sends another message loud and clear: all women are to marry. Even dead star angels are married. To Jesus, if necessary.This book was read to me by my father when I was a child, so it actually hurts a bit to give it such a bad review. Some kids might like it, certainly enough people have rated it highly, but I simply cannot get past how bad it is. People like Two and a Half Men too, but that doesn't make it good, and it doesn't make watching it a good use of your time. If you want to read a book with your kids, pick another. There are more than enough modern, well written books full of believable and relatable characters out there that you should never have to pick up this piece of pulp nonsense and try to pass it off as a classic.

Bryon

I started reading "A Wrinkle In Time" when I was 8 or 10. I say started because I never finished it. I can't remember exactly why, but I think it kind of scared the crap out of me. Now, 15 or 17 years later, I've read it again (this time the whole thing) and there's really nothing scary at all about it. It's possible that, as a kid, I was somehow relating this book to the terribly scary Disney movie "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Again, I don't know why.Whatever the reason for my fears, the book is not spectacular. Maybe I can't see it now being older and not reading through the eyes of a child, but I can't understand how it won the John Newberry Medal. The witches were plastic and seemed to serve little purpose; the bad guy, a concept embodied in a shadow, had no motivation (if you want to read about true darkness for the sake of darkness/nothing for the sake of nothing, pick up Michael Ende's "The Neverending Story"); and the father, who seems to have no backbone and no sense of decency when it comes to saving his son. It has been said that the father character is an excellent tool in showing children that parents do not always have the answers, that they are, in fact, fallible and (God forbid) imperfect. But it's so much more than that. He comes across as weak, helpless, foolish, and even heartless at times. If you want to write a story where a child finds out that his/her parents aren't perfect, you don't have to make the parental figure a cold, bumbling idiot. Unless that's what you're going for. And I certainly don't think that L'Engle was. But all that aside, why would you even want to tell that story? Part of the beauty of being a child is you get to hold onto the illusion that mom and dad are Superman. Why ruin that? Granted, some kids live in terrible families, but there are better ways to write about those scenarios. This is not it.I wanted to give this book 2 stars but decided that, because of my jaded, critical age I cannot judge too harshly. Plus, I did like the savant character of Charles Wallace. He was cute. As was the love that Meg and him shared. Calvin, on the other hand, was a complete throwaway character.If I had kids, would I push this book on them? No. If they picked it off my bookshelf and started reading it, I wouldn't stop them. But I'm not about to recommend it to anyone young or old. Unless it's too ask that person to help me understand what the big deal is.

Prashant

This book has deeply disappointed me. At this point of time I can't say if I am more disappointed with myself or with the book. Looking at the high ratings given to this book I have started to doubt if I am too much of a mortal to enjoy science fiction. Will have to check that in future.The plot of this book worked out to be just fine in the first half but then the story started to go bland. The dialogues are boring and I can't feel a scintilla of emotion for any of the characters. The science seemed to be too absurd, the plot too awry and the whole story without any strong character. After enduring the pain for 60 or so pages my patience grew too thin and I had to stop. Maybe the problem is not with the story but with the teller. I Can't point a finger on anything right now but I am very sure I hated it.Maybe because after reading half of it, I saved it thinking that I will read the rest on some calm and propitious day. Well, surely the morning doesn't seem to be that calm anymore! The author would have done a much better job if she had put a little more effort in grooming the charachterss of the book. They are just too shallow. As for me, I am pretty soon going to test my taste for science fiction by reading The Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy. Does anyone have a better suggestion?

Khalid

A Wrinkle in Time is a children's fantasy novel with a significant element of science fiction; its thoughtful ideas, intriguing plot and amusing conversation style make it enjoyable to read; yet, it often borders on being overdone.The novel tells us about Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin, and there travel in the universe in order to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace's father. Just like every rescue novel, this was not exactly easy. The novel was generally good; however, it had some problems in my opinion. I do not like it when novel try to push knowledge down your throat, especially on matters like religion. They do that a lot in children's novels, assuming that children aren't smart to pick up implications on their own (so they just put it right out). Children are smart, and they do understand; we should not underestimate them. This novel did try that with many subjects, not just religion. My other problem with this novel is how far the author's imagination gets sometimes. I like some imagination, and don't mind it, but this gets too much. A good fantasy novel, in my opinion, should give the reader enough enforcement of the world rules they have already been shown before bringing up new rules or exceptions. Why is it almost different every time they tesseract? The story doesn't give enough feel of consistency.

Blair

Part of the way through this book I started wondering if the secret of writing a book for children is in the careful deletion of details. Maybe children aren't so closely tied to the words on the page and you must let them invent their own reasons for things - if the characters are there interacting, then it must be for a good reason, to say so explicitly would be to destroy the imagination. But I can't say this is the case with other children stories I've loved, including Little House on the Prairie and Chronicles of Narnia. The authors of those books make the effort to explain the connections between things, the motivation behind the action. The author of A Wrinkle in Time performs a literary tesseract (to use a term from the book) again and again. When the author wants to get from here to there, she merely brings the two together and, presto, it is done.

Nandakishore Varma

After coming to this book with high expectations, I must say I was disappointed. Since it is hailed as something of a children's classic, I expected something more than the rather insipid fare presented. Madeline L'Engle seems to have set out to write a children's fantasy with a lot of Hard SF concepts, but have ended up with a familiar "Good-versus-Evil" story in the Christian tradition, cluttered with a lot of half-cooked scientific concepts which are never more than cursorily explained.For example, the key concept, the "tesseract", is explained as “the fifth dimension”. The author says, through the character of Mrs. Whatsit:"Well, the fifth dimension’s a tesseract. You add that to the other four dimensions and you can travel through space without having to go through the long way around. In other words, to put into Euclid, or old-fashioned plane geometry, a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points."Well, she is wrong on many counts here. The tesseract is actually a hypothetical figure of the mathematical fourth dimension, whose “faces” consist of three dimensional cubes, the same way the faces of a normal cube consist of squares. In fact, if you square a square, you get a cube: if you square a cube in the fourth dimension, you get a tesseract. (Interestingly enough, this point is well captured by L’Engle: only, she sees the fourth dimension as time. This is Einstein’s concept, and totally independent of the mathematical fourth dimension.)[To be fair, I have to add that although the author misses base totally with the basic concept, I found the title of the book is a nice way to describe the concept of a wormhole: however, apart from using this methodology to keep on jumping from one planet to another, this interesting topic is not developed further.]The parents of the protagonist, Meg, are scientists. Meg is a typical “difficult” child-bad at academics and rebellious at school, but brilliant. Her parents, being scientists, can see beyond outer appearances, so they are tolerant of her faults: her teachers and society less so. When the story begins, Meg’s father is missing, ostensibly on a secret mission for the government. But all the neighbours think that he has gone off with another woman, and the snide remarks she keeps on hearing do nothing to improve Meg’s already belligerent personality. The only person who understands her is kid brother Charles Wallace, a boy who is officially a moron but endowed with psychic powers in reality.It is into this situation, on a stormy night, that Mrs. Whatsit walks in. She, with her companions Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which (nice play on words here: Mrs. Who wears glasses and quotes from classics reminds one of a wise owl, and Mrs. Which flies on a broom and keeps on appearing and disappearing, as if by magic) are fighting against the “Darkness”, which Meg’s dad is also fighting. They whisk away Meg, Charles and neighbourhood kid Calvin across many universes and dimensions. It seems that the kids have been destined to fight the Darkness: which they do on the frightening planet Camazotz, and in true fairy tale tradition, initially lose and then win. And that’s the story in a nutshell.As fantasies go, this is pretty standard fare, considering the time in which it was written. However, the novelist must be commended for bringing the whole good-versus-evil battle into a wider canvas than the traditional Christian one: Einstein, Gandhi, Buddha, Da Vinci etc. are also seen as warriors of the Light along with Jesus, and the Darkness is never identified with the concept of Sin or the Devil. In fact, the description of Camazotz with its mindless inhabitants and their rigid adherence to discipline is positively chilling in its resemblance to a totalitarian regime (the nonconformist child being forced to toss the ball again and again, crying with pain at each practice… brrr!).But ultimately, the novel fails to deliver. Meg’s father’s experimental project ends up as just a plot device. The author seemed to have started out with a lot of ideas at the outset, but seems have lost track of them as the novel progressed: in the end, only the rescue of Meg’s father and his reunion with the family is given any focus. The whole background story remains extremely inchoate. And as a fearless female protagonist, Meg does precious little except at the very end.Still, I give the novel three stars for introducing a lot of interesting concepts to its young audience. In its time, it must have "ignited a lot of minds" (to borrow a phrase from our former President, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam) and encouraged them to travel along the adventurous trail of scientific discovery.

Clark Hallman

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle has been on my “To Read” list for many years because I have an affinity for time-travel novels. However, it is a children’s book or it is probably more appropriately described as a “Young Adult” novel. For some reason, that deterred me from reading it. However, this novel has cred. In 1963 it won the Newbery Medal, which is awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. In addition, it is 7th in the Goodreads “Best Time Travel Books of All Time” list and 8th in the Goodreads “Best Time Travel Fiction” list. So, I read it now when I’m in my 60s and I enjoyed it very much (not because I’m in my second childhood either). This is a wonderfully written little novel that is packed with interesting, appealing, determined and brave characters. Meg, her extraordinary younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin are transported to a very remote planet to attempt a rescue of their father from an evil imprisonment. Three benevolent beings took them on this rescue journey via a tesseract, i.e., a wrinkle in time that allows them to quickly move through time and space. However, the children must battle the evil by themselves. I found this novel to be a very enjoyable cocktail of science fiction, fantasy and adventure that left me with a sweet feeling at the end. Maybe I am in my second childhood! This novel is a worthwhile read for anyone.

Ruben

I'm sorry to disappoint you guys, but I did not think this was a great book. I realize I'm just now reading a book you've all loved for years, so I feel bad knocking something that's such a classic in children's literature. But honestly, it was a drag to read, and I'll tell you why. The characters are all either boring (Meg, Calvin) or unbelievable (Charles Wallace). The non-Earth settings are fully disconnected from each other and simply parodies of our world. The pacing is painful, with conversations that drag on and on while the characters discuss the obvious. I rarely found the writing clever or charming, but I did enjoy the plentiful quotations of other works (maybe because it was a break from L'Engle's writing), and I liked the part where Mrs. Whatsit sprained her dignity. If you want clever, read Snicket; if you want human, read Rowling; if you want epic, read Tolkien; if you want mind-bending, read Verne; if you want funny, read White or Cleary. I was looking for these things here but couldn't find them.

Michael

I can see why this book is a children’s classic; the adventure, intrigue and fantasy world combine together to make a truly fantastic novel. This is the first time I’ve read this book and I do feel like I missed out on experiencing this as a child. The three children in this book are great characters, not the typical sweet kids you seem to find in children’s stories; these kids have flaws and have been told to embrace them. Through their adventures to Camazotz you find that all the kids talents work together to help each other; Calvin shows an interest in philosophy, Meg with her talent for mathematics and Charles' intellectually curious. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the intrigue kept pushing me through this book. The weirdness of the plot and the world reminded me a little of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass and how much I enjoyed reading that book. Don’t let the fact that this is a Children’s classic stop you from reading this book; like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this is equally enjoyable to read as an adult. The philosophical and religious metaphors in the book would make this the perfect book to dissect and explore deeper.

Vicki

L’Engle, Madeleine,1962. A Wrinkle in Time. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The children of scientists, Meg and Charles Wallace Murry are both extraordinarily intelligent and unique. Four-year-old Charles Wallace, who lets people continue to think he’s a moron because it “gives people something to feel smug about” and sees no reason to disillusion them, has the special ability of being able to communicate with others without hearing them speak. Meg, a math wiz who is frequently getting into fights with other children at school, spends most of her time thinking about her father who has been missing for the last few years. Along with the help of three unusual characters – Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which, the children embark on a journey through the fifth dimension – the tesseract, to save Mr. Murry from a mind-controlling brain called IT. This science fiction/fantasy novel portrays characters that have compassion and integrity. The fate of the world rests on the children’s shoulders, but they are empowered through the use of their own personal qualities – communication, logic and love. Value is placed on individuality, loyalty and courage, and even though the children doubt themselves at times, in the end, their determination conquers evil. The concepts and beliefs introduced in A Wrinkle in Time are still significant and time has done little to alter the relevance of the message. Each character in the book has an individual voice made real through the use of dialogue and character description. This Newbery Medal Winner is the first of four books in the Murry family series. Readers who enjoyed Lois Lowry’s The Giver may also like this book. Ages 10 and up.

Philip

My favorite theme/topic in books is time travel. I've always thought it would answer all of the arguments in the world. I mean, Hawking says it's possible, right? And generally, scientifically speaking, his word is gold. Granted, he did say one time that the absence of tourists from the future is a pretty good argument against it. Well, besides... it's not like time travel doesn't exist... it's just that we only know how to progress (and often regress) forward through it.So, I liked this book for what it brought to the time travelling table. And believe me, there's already a lot there... just google it if you don't believe me.I read the fourth (and I think it was the final) book of this series when I was a kid. I loved it. I don't know why I never got around to the beginning.I wasn't a big fan of the plot itself, or even the characters... huh... I'm starting to wonder if 4 stars is too generous. Nah. Time travel takes the cake for me. Takes the cake.

Lindsey Weise

I passed over these series as a child, although I remember wanting to know what the hype was about. I finally picked up this first book and gave it a try. I'll just come out and say it: I was almost annoyed with how bored I was reading this. I'm really confused as to why it was such a big deal! It felt like a short story! I've read a lot of children's books and none of them felt this...lackluster in regards to the content inside the story. I'm not saying I disliked the characters or the events. Those were fine. It felt like someone had the plot outline and then just turned that in as the book. There didn't seem to be much detail or emotion even in any situation in the book. It was like every third sentence had been chopped from the book. Kids are not complete idiots. They can deal with more detail or momentous situations. I'm going to keep reading the series in the second book and see if my opinion changes. I really hope it does change upon further reading.

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