Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

This edition published: May 2007. Click on the cover to buy from Powells.com. I'm a Powell's partner and receive a small commission on sales.

I should have read A Wrinkle in Time as a child- it's ostensibly written for children, and it's a classic, and lots of people recommended it to me. But there were two things that kept me from reading it. The first was that it is science fiction and I have always had a strong bias against reading science fiction. Cause, you know, I'm a literary snob. And secondly, it was my mother who recommended it to me, and who reads what their mother tells them to read?

My loss.

It's a great book, a sweet book, a satisfying read and a book that deserves to be the classic that it is. What surprised me the most was that although it's a children's/young adult book, it's not written like it's written for kids- the prose isn't dumbed down or noticeably simplified, the way that, you know, certain wizardy-trendy books are. Actually I can't talk authoritatively on wizardy books because I only read the first few chapters of the first wizardy book before I got bored and threw it down. But I digress.

The story centers on young Meg, her baby brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin, searching for Meg's and Charles Wallace's father, a scientist who has disappeared. Their search takes them to faraway planets and puts them in the middle of an interplanetary battle between good and evil. The battle continues through the next three volumes of L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time Quartet series.

I loved A Wrinkle in Time. I thought it was charming, sweet, suspenseful and thoroughly enjoyable. The writing is excellent; maybe a touch on the light side for an adult but really, really well-written. And the point is that it never sounds like it was written to be an easy read. It's also one of the top 100 most-challenged books of the 1990s, due to witchcraft content (always sure to irk certain types of "readers") and because of L'Engle's rather liberal Christianity as expressed in this book by listing Jesus alongside important secular artists and thinkers. A couple of other things caught my attention that might also have made the book vulnerable to challenges- one, the portrayal of a society that mandates conformity in order to make the point that individualism is a positive, and secondly, that Meg, the main character, loses faith in her parent and ceases (at least temporarily) to accept him as an authority figure. We can't have children thinking their parents aren't all-powerful, now can we?

A Wrinkle in Time is a wonderful book. A classic forever.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


Ruth King said...

I never read this as a child for much the same reason you didn't -- an aversion to science fiction (which now seems absurd given how much I enjoy sci-fi as an adult) and the fact that my aunt recommended it. Oh, how I have kicked myself since then!

Amy said...

You only read a couple of chapters of Harry Potter?

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read this since I read it to my son years ago and I sure didn't find anything offensive in it. Sometimes it seems like people want to ban imaginations.

Zibilee said...

I loved this book as a child! And I agree with Kathy, it is so frustrating to actually see the types of things that they want to ban. What is wrong with these people?

jennysbooks said...

I love A Wrinkle in Time, which I did read as a little girl. I didn't find it scary then, exactly, but there are creepy images in it that have stuck with me my whole life. You should read the others in the series!

jewwishes said...

I read this to my children, and will be reading it to my grandchildren. It is a wonderful story, and one that should not be banned.

contemplatrix said...

It was discouraged when I was a youth and not nearly as contrary as I am now. the discouragement was more of a community sense, yet not by my parents. The more I think about it, I think someone thought it controversial, and instead of reading it personally they black-balled it out of fear.

I would've loved it, especially as an aspiring writer. L'Engle's writing is so beautiful. My daughter and I read it together. I love to see how she inspires my writerly daughter.

--My daughter was horrified to hear that A Wrinkle in Time has been challenged/banned many times --she got rather heated, actually.


iubookgirl said...

I've always loved this book! I never noticed the Christian elements when I was young.

Jeanne said...

It's ironic that now this story strikes a lot of people as very religious.

stacybuckeye said...

I haven;t read this since I was a kid, but I read it many times back in the day. I need to pick it up again!

Natalie Marrujo said...

Hey! I've read this book twice: one is for recommended 6th grade reading and the other is for funsies near the end of 8th grade. It's such a good reread and I would like to do it again as part of my banned books walkthrough coming up after graduation (June 13, 2014)!