Book Review, YA & MG Time Travel Challenge and Classic Children’s Book Challenge
This is one of the Puffin Modern Classics series and unusually I got the paperback, which was marginally cheaper than the Kindle edition. It says on the front cover ‘a masterpiece of science fiction’ and for a long time I wondered, as I felt the start was over-written, too flowery. Then I got well and truly drawn into the plot, and despite shades of 1984 and a few other alternate universe stories of the 1960s great SF writers, I concluded the cover was right. This is a masterpiece.
We find Meg Murry at school or home with her mother and brothers. At first it is hard to tell that the youngest brother is not an adult. He is strange, but this strangeness is something treasured by his parents and beautifully explained – as are Meg’s own foibles – as something he’ll grow into. I remembered one young friend of mine who similarly spoke in the most complete and grammatically perfect sentences from a very young age, and accepted Charlie Wallace (Meg’s brother) from then on.
Acceptance is one of the many themes in this book. Acceptance of who you are, and of people’s differences. As we follow Meg, Charlie Wallace and their friend Calvin to the planet of Camazotz in search of Meg’s father, we learn, as do they, that our differences are not only important to us, but also to our society, and even our world.
The book splits fairly evenly into two parts: understanding Meg at home with her mother and brothers, and the strangeness and mysteries in their lives, and the quest to find her father, through the Wrinkle in Time. There is a fair amount of science – from psychology through to quantum physics – in bite-sized chunks in this book, which I enjoyed. It’s not essential to enjoying the plot, but I reckon a good many young readers will enjoy it too. The ending is a little cliched nowadays, but it wouldn’t have been when the story was written.
One part I particularly enjoyed was the interaction with some planetary inhabitants who have not developed sight. Having recently debated with myself whether I could adequately include a deaf character in my books, I was fascinated not only by the story and descriptions of the people, but also the consequences for society, morals, and ways of doing things that would result from living without sight. I liked the way these beings concluded that sight was a limitation for Meg and her friends.
A Wrinkle in Time is only the first in the Time series. I enjoyed it immensely, but I don’t think I’ll follow up on the others. Although it has made me thoughtful; I’m still pondering some parts of the adventure. Maybe I’ll look them up later. It is a compelling book, one that I recommend highly, and it is definitely a classic.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
PS It was published in 1962 so is not strictly eligible for the Classic challenge, but that challenge is in itself not strict, and I think it’s justified as a 50 year-old book.