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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 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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review 2018-09-09 16:55
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Meg Murry, a high-school-aged girl who goes on an adventure through time and space with her brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O'Keefe to rescue her father from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. At the beginning of the book, Meg is troubled by self-doubt and her concern for her father, who has been missing for over a year. The plot begins with the arrival of Mrs. Whatsit at the Murry house on a dark and stormy night. Although she looks like an tramp, she is actually a celestial creature with the ability to read Meg's thoughts. She startles Meg's mother by reassuring her of the existence of a tesseract--a sort of "wrinkle" in space and time. It is through this wrinkle that Meg and her companions will travel through the fifth dimension in search of Mr. Murry.


Full of complex new vocabulary and relatable story lines, Wrinkle is a great book for 4th-6th graders. This is a great book to read aloud as a class or use in a literature circle. Activities and chapter studies are widely available online. 


Lexile: 740L

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review 2018-07-23 18:09
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1) - Madeleine L'Engle

I'm on the wrong side of history here, but I didn't enjoy 'A Wrinkle in Time'. I'd read it before (at too old of an age) but had forgotten everything except the back garden and an alien planet.

Meg Murray and Calvin are great characters, but there didn't seem to be enough of a story for them to move within. I liked the Mrs....I loved the imagination...but it left me cold.

It's not you, its me Madeleine L'Engle.


Time Quintet


Next: 'A Wind in the Door'

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review 2018-05-20 00:00
A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1)
A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) - Anna Quindlen,Madeleine L'Engle You can't go home again

I still remember watching E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in the theater as a kid. The nearest movie theater was an hour’s drive from our little town in the Deep Midwest, so we didn’t get to go more than a few times a year. I’d been begging my parents to take us to see E.T. for weeks when they finally surprised me for my 8th birthday. I was enchanted from the start, so wrapped up in the story by the time Eliot said goodbye to E.T. that I cried all the way home. When they re-released the movie in theaters 20 years later in 2002, I was so excited to watch it again that I left work early on a Friday just to be able to see an earlier showing. But watching it as an adult, something strange happened: the magic was gone. Instead of being charmed, I was turned off by Spielberg’s emotional manipulation and left the theater angry and disappointed, wishing I hadn’t ruined one of my favorite childhood memories.

I have a similar relationship with A Wrinkle in Time. I still remember reading it for the first time not long after watching E.T. Our family had supper one evening at the neighboring farm of one of our church’s elders, and afterwards, my sister and I went downstairs to the family room while the adults talked church upstairs. I found this book on the shelf and sat on the couch reading while my sister pouted because I wouldn’t play cards with her. I feel asleep with the book still in my hand, so the elder’s wife sent it home with my mom so I could finish it. 

I felt a strong connection with the two main characters: morose, misunderstood Meg and precocious but reticent Charles Wallace. I loved trying to picture the magical and mysterious Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and especially Mrs. Which. I felt so smart when I understood the idea of tessering as illustrated with the ant and the piece of string. I despaired when things looked grim for Meg and Charles Wallace, and I cheered when they all worked together to defeat the Black Thing. 

Our church was part of the push in the late 70’s/early 80’s towards the new evangelical fundamentalism inspired by the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan and the influence of the Moral Majority, and I’d been so indoctrinated at that point that the religious elements of this book didn’t make much of an impression on me. It wasn’t until I reread it last week that I realized just how integral those elements were to the story, and I have to admit that I found it really upsetting. 

Much like the other propaganda we were fed at church, L’Engle gets downright Orwellian when she declares religion the path to freedom and atheism the path to conformity and authoritarianism. Since this was written in the 1960’s, I can easily imagine that she used the anti-religious Soviet regime as her model for the sinister CENTRAL Central Intelligence on Camazotz. And of course, Meg and the others can only beat the Black Thing not with their limited human understanding of science but instead by putting their complete faith in what they cannot see.

For me, the book is a perfect representation of fundamentalist religion, though probably not in the way L’Engle intended: the story is trite, patriarchal, self-referential, and can’t stand up to scrutiny once its own circular logic is removed. I don’t begrudge anyone else their enjoyment of this book, but it took me a lot of years to escape from beneath the weight of my religious upbringing, and I wish I hadn’t reopened that wound by rereading this book.

(This review was originally posted as part of Cannonball Read 10: Sticking It to Cancer One Book at a Time.)
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