Wednesday, October 1, 2008

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

This edition published: May 2007. Click on the cover to buy from your local IndieBound-affiliated independent bookseller.

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.


Anonymous said...

What a great review that revives my memory of the book. I remember when the Mrs W's reveal their secret roles in the cosmic fight against "the darkness" they ask the children to name some on Earth (a partially dark planet) who fight the darkness. First named is Jesus followed by several scientists, religious figures, and artists, including Buddha, Gandhi, Bach, Einstein, Euclid and Copernicus. It's fun book and I'll have to re-read it.

LorMil said...

The book is everything you stated. I loved it, and so did my children, and as adults, they still like it.

It's a timeless book.

Kathy W said...

Wow what a great review you wrote on this novel. I haven't read it but you've peaked my interest.