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review 2019-01-11 20:00
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) - Anna Quindlen,Madeleine L'Engle

I decided to reread A Wrinkle in Time again because I am also going to reread the remainder of the Murry/O'Keefe series and I am one of those people who needs to begin at the beginning. I don't have anything to add to this review, except that I remain in awe of Madeleine L'Engle's extraordinary humanity. She was a remarkable woman, and I'm not sure that we deserved her.

 

Rereading the book inspired me to rewatch the movie, as well. Maybe this weekend!

 

Review from 3/24/18:

 

I decided to reread after seeing the new Ava DuVernay adaptation with my daughter. I read the book as a child of the 1970's - probably a bit more than decade or so after the initial 1963 publication, around 1977, when I was 11. I fell in love with the book then, seeing much of myself in Meg Murry, the ordinary, often grumpy, young woman. I revisited L'Engle in 2015, and found that, while some of her books had not held up with reread, many of them did. 

 

This book is part of my personal canon, one of the books that shaped my childhood and had a part in making me who I am today.


A Wrinkle in Time is a bit of a period piece, to be sure. Girls today are stronger, more self-aware, more cognizant of the pressures of an often sexist society, and more willing to buck convention in order to be authentic to themselves. Not all girls, of course, but some girls. Our culture, today, at least struggles to understand these pressures and to acknowledge that they exist, even if we often fail to genuinely confront them.


The DuVernay adaptation succeeds in a way that, after reading alot of L'Engle, and a fair amount about L'Engle, I believe that she would appreciate. Casting Meg Murry as a biracial young woman was an inspired decision, the relocation of the plot to a more diverse location in California, the addition of Charles Wallace as an adopted child, to me really work to illuminate some of the themes that L'Engle was writing about - alienation and dangers of extreme social conformity in particular. 

There are parts of the book that are quite different from the movie, of course. In the book, the Murry's have two additional children, a set of male twins who are effortlessly socially competent. They are capable of fulfilling society's expectations with little work. Meg, on the other hand, is prickly, defensive, occasionally angry, and fearsomely intelligent - all things which 1963 America couldn't really cope with in girls. Heck, we still struggle with girls who are prickly, defensive, occasionally angry and fearsomely intelligent. 

A Wrinkle in Time shines light into dark places. For that alone, it's worth reading.

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review 2019-01-09 17:23
Welcome to the L'Engleverse: The Young Unicorns
The Young Unicorns - Madeleine L'Engle

A few years ago I started a Madeleine L'Engle project. I read some of her Chronos/Kairos series (which starts with A Wrinkle in Time and focuses on the Murry family) and then I asked for the Austin series for Christmas. I read through this book - so this is a reread for me.

 

The Young Unicorns is set in New York City, and is told from the perspective of a young man, Josiah Davidson, who has become close to the Austin's since their move away from the small town where their house, Thornhill, is located.

 

L'Engles books are difficult to describe and difficult to pigeonhole. There are generally strong religious themes, as well as elements of sci fi. Because they were, typically, written for a YA audience, some of the elements haven't worn well and seem extremely dated. In this book, that's true of both the central element of science - something that L'Engle refers to as a "Micro-Ray," which is basically a laser, and, also, the presence of the least threatening "gang" in the history of literature, the Alphabats, who hang around a church.

 

However, even though those elements of the story are dated, and even laughable at times, I enjoyed The Young Unicorns. I think that L'Engle writes families better than anyone - she perfectly captures the warmth and humanity of a family, but doesn't leave out the conflict. If I had to choose a fictional family to adopt, it would either be a L'Engle family - the Austins and the Murrys are both delightful, or the Weasleys, from Harry Potter. 

 

Reading The Young Unicorns reminded me why I love her books, flawed though they are - and inspired me to restart, and this time complete, my L'Engle project.

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review 2018-11-12 15:17
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Time Quintet #3 by Madeleine L'Engle
A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle

Years have passed since 'A Wind in the Door'. Charles Wallace is a teenager and Meg Murry is the pregnant wife of Calvin O'Keefe. Dramatic changes in her protagonists seems to be one of L'Engle's hallmarks, and with a little research, I see she can go back and forth on a character's age. Much like Gaudior, L'Engle sometimes finds moving through time easier than space.

 

It is Thanksgiving and the family is gathered together, except for Calvin who is away on business. Calvin' mother, Mrs. O'Keefe, however, is at dinner and a little out of place. During dinner Meg's father receives a phone call from the President saying that nuclear war is imminent based on the threats of a South American dictator. Mrs. O'Keefe responds to this news with a "rune" calling upon heaven's aid to help them in this dark time. Charles Wallace feels the importance of this, and resolves to use the rune to prevent the war.

 

I may be pushing against the tide here, but this was the most enjoyable one yet. I really struggled with the flatness of 'A Wrinkle in Time'. This novel has some problematic elements, especially with its romancing of Native American culture and its lack of dynamic female characters. For the first charge there is only the defense that L'Engle's People of the Winds were one tribe only, she doesn't say that all Native Americans were "pre-fall" innocents. In the universe of these books, she would have represented all humans, Native American or not, as being that innocent before the Echthroi's corrupting influence touched them. Not the most satisfactory defense, but it works for me.

 

The second charge against female characters I can say much less about. In this book they are all tools for breeding and marrying except Mrs. O'Keefe providing some critical plot assistance before shuffling off, and Meg Murry providing some kythe-aid while pregnant and in bed. There's not much defensible in that, but I feel Meg has deserved some time with her feet up so it didn't bother my reading.

 

Anyway, this was entertaining from start to finish, something I couldn't say about the previous two.

 

Time Quintet

 

Next: 'Many Waters'

 

Previous: 'A Wind in the Door'

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review 2018-11-06 19:43
A Wind in the Door, Time Quintet #2 by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle

It took awhile for me to warm to this book, but in the end I liked it better than 'A Wrinkle in Time'. Why? I liked that L'Engle was writing more in the open about science, and about faith, and the hocus-pocus that comes about when you put the two together. I mean that in the best way possible. It worked for the story, and for Meg, who really shines here.

 

Meg is a girl who was portrayed as troubled and a little at odds with the world outside of her family. Only by comparison with Charles Wallace does she seem able to get along at all. This book being about Charles Wallace's struggle to adapt was fitting.

 

I was on the fence about reading more of these - I never did as a kid - but now I'm confidant that I'll keep going.

 

Time Quintet

 

Next: 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet'

 

Previous: 'A Wrinkle in Time'

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review 2018-09-10 03:58
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

When Meg Murrays father disappears, Meg, her brother (Charles), and a friend (Calvin) travel through time and space to find him. They face many obstacles in these strange lands place by an evil that is threatening to destroy the universe called the Dark Thing. They must fight to save her father and destroy the evil! I would use this book to go over character traits and descriptions where the students could recreate certain scenes. 

Lexile: 740L

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