A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Reviewed by Lisa

This book, written for the “junior fiction” market, was published in 1962, but is still as readable and relevant now, almost 60 years later, as it was then.  The author introduces us to Meg Murray as a young high-schooler, probably 14 years old, although that is never clearly specified. Meg is an angry, miserable outsider. She feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere – not at school, where she gets in trouble all the time, or at home with her beautiful scientist mother, normal 10-year-old twin brothers, or her youngest brother, 5-year-old Charles Wallace, who is a prodigy.

Meg’s father, a brilliant physicist, has gone missing. He did classified work for the the government, but when he had to be away he used to write home often. However, it’s been a year since the family has heard from him and everyone is assuming he ran off and abandoned them. The cruel comments and taunts frequently enrage Meg, leading to fights and trips to the principal’s office which only make things worse.

Then, one day, she meets three very strange ladies who have moved into a nearby “haunted house.” She and Charles Wallace are walking in the woods near the house, and encounter Calvin O’Keefe, a junior at Meg’s high school and a basketball star.  Claiming that he “had a feeling” about walking in the woods that day, Calvin joins the other two as they proceed to the old house.  The three “ladies,” Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, seem to know something about Meg’s father, and soon sweep Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin off on a quest to rescue Mr. Murray, who is being held prisoner on a distant planet by an evil entity known as “It.”

Their adventures, the budding romance between Meg and Calvin, and efforts to fight “It” and save Mr. Murray make for compelling reading for kids or adults. This would be a great book for parents to read aloud with their older children, a custom that has fallen out of favor in our techie world. This book was made into a movie a few years ago, and while the movie is entertaining, it just skims over the mystical and spiritual aspects of the book which I feel add so much to the story. Spoiler Alert:  they save Mr. Murray but do not defeat the evil “It.” L’Engle has written several sequels to “A Wrinkle In Time” that follow the children into adulthood, but this book can stand alone as the story of a young teen learning to open herself to love.

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