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A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

By Intern Rusty | Books | August 10, 2010 | Comments ()

By Intern Rusty | Books | August 10, 2010 |


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I can't remember the last time I read this book, but it had to be at least ten years ago and I probably read it the first time when I was about eight and it's one of the few books from my childhood that I could remember specific details from as an adult.

A Wrinkle in Time tells the story of Meg Murray, her bother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin O'Keefe as they travel across the universe to rescue Meg and Charles's father who has been trapped on a distant planet for years. This is a very simplified version of the plot, but it's necessary to boil it down to it's most essential elements.

This book stayed with me not necessarily because of the plot, but because of the emotions Meg experiences. Her feelings are strong, conflicting, and frequently not the sort of things that good, smart girls are "supposed" to feel. She hates her appearance and wishes she could fit in better while at the same time lashing out at anyone who teases her for not fitting in. She can be sullen, moody, and aggressive. Her journeys place a responsibility on her that is too great, and she knows that it is too great and actively rebells against that responsibility being placed on her. Too frequently in books where children are given great tasks they rise to the occasion like it's only natural that an 11 year old should defeat powerful enchantments and face down an adult wizard. The fact that Meg doesn't made her much more real to me.

Other parts of the book bug me, though. Charles Wallace's precociousness can be a little hard to take when he addresses his much older sister with "good girl" as he's walking her through a deductive reasoning process. I've never had a genius telepath for a little brother, but I do have a particularly bright younger sister and I can promise you if she ever said "good girl" to me at a similar age she would have been pinched under the table and hard. I understand that he's different and special and Meg and her whole family have nothing but love for him, but siblings are siblings and Charles addressing Meg (or his mother, in other passages) in such condescending fashion doesn't read "intuitive genius as a young child" to me as much as it reads "arrogant little shit."

A Wrinkle In Time is an imaginative and interesting children's book that has stood the test of time. The details of Meg's everyday life are generic enough that the story really hasn't aged too much, and Tessering is still an unknown technology so those sections are still intriguing as well. The writing doesn't insult the intelligence of children, and the characters are flawed enough to be relatable (except Charles Wallace, but I don't think he's supposed to be relatable). My mom read it as a kid, I read it, and whenever I have kids they'll probably read it, too.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Rusty's reviews, check out her blog or catch her each evening, Sunday through Thursday, here on Pajiba, where she hosts Pajiba After Dark.


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