I don’t even consider myself a connoisseur of the genre(s), but I can’t help but think A Wrinkle in Time is one of the standards by which juvenile fantasy/sci fi should be judged. I first read it as a sixth grader myself, and I honestly didn’t remember much more than some names and some generalities: Meg, Calvin, Charles Wallace, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which (though I mostly lumped them together), IT, and a very vague apparition of Aunt Beast. It definitely wasn’t the book for me that it has been for some people–the way Narnia or Anne were for me. Now, having read it as an adult, I am completely wowed. In it I see shades of other books: Narnia and The Giver come most readily to mind. The book is mostly action and dialogue; it moves fast, so the characterization comes as a by-product of the action and a bit of interior insight, though not much. I prefer a thoughtful book more than an action-packed one, though L’Engle manages to balance the two at the end with so much truth and insight that I can’t say much more than I love it. So many memorable lines!
“My child, do not despair. Do you think we would have brought you here if there were no hope? We are asking you to do a difficult thing, but we are confident that you can do it. Your father needs help, he needs courage, and for his children he may be able to do what he cannot do for himself.” (chapter 5)
“Maybe I don’t like being different,” Meg said, “but I don’t want to be like everybody else, either.” (chapter 8)
“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?”
“Yes, Mrs. Whatsit said. “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” (chapter 12)
I wonder if it’s possible to be an adolescent girl and not identify in some way with Meg. I doubt it. I’m a forty-two year old wife and mother of four, and I still identify with her. 😉 I love the message of this book and its rich spiritual message. It’s one we need today.
One of the copies of this book that I own is the fiftieth anniversary edition, and it includes additional matter, including L’Engles Newbery acceptance speech. Her comments about the award are perfect for this challenge.
I am of the first generation to profit by Mr. Melcher’s excitement, having been born shortly before he established the Newbery Award, and growing up with most of these books on my shelves. I learned about mankind from Hendrik Willem van Loon; I traveled with Dr. Dolittle, created by a man I called Hug Lofting; Will James taught me about the West with Smoky; in boarding school I grabbed Invincible Louisa the moment it came into the library because Louisa May Alcott had the same birthday that I have, and the same ambitions. And now to be a very small link in the long chain of those writers, of the men and women who led me into the expanding universe, is both an honor and a responsibility. It is an honor for which I am deeply grateful to Mr. Melcher and to those of you who decided A Wrinkle in Time worthy of it.
I’m so glad I got back around to this one. Now I’m positively itching to read When You Reach Me again (because it was, I presume, inspired by A Wrinkle in Time), as well as both the rest of the Murry-O’Keefe books and the Austin books. Highly, highly Recommended. (1962)
- “A Wrinkle in Time: A Point Contention”–an argument for this book from a Christian teacher and author
- My review of The Love Letters by Mdeleine L’Engle
- Madeleine L’Engle Project posts at Semicolon