30 December 2010

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday re-read is a series where I review books that were released 5 or more years ago.

Today's review is for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. This book was first published in 1962, which was actually very late because the book had been written for a while but no publisher would touch it. I'm glad the author had persistence, though, because this was my first sci-fi book as a child and it still touches me today.

Meg Murry, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. She claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a "tesseract," which, if you didn't know, is a wrinkle in time.

Meg's father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?

I never had much of an opportunity to read L'Engle's work outside of the Wrinkle in Time series as a child. I did, however, get to read this book and its sequels, and I loved all of them. A Wrinkle in Time is a delightful book. The science in the books is advanced, but the author is careful to explain it on an elementary level so it comes off as completely understandable and uncomplicated. The characters are beautifully painted and consistent. Meg is obstinate, Charles Wallace is brilliant but confused, and Calvin is empathetic and understanding no matter where their travels take them. A romantic sub-plot runs throughout, but it isn't really the major plot in any book, and the characters seem to fold together naturally, in a relationship that is familiar to modern sensibilities but probably insane in the '60s, one of the many things that might have seemed unusual when the book was written but are less strange now (a female lead in sci-fi? a boy who feels things? a girl who's smarter than the boys around her? a mother who works? craziness, allowing the book to have a timeless feel that is hard to accomplish in such a technology-driven field as science-fiction). In re-reading for this review the high point on Camzotz still made me cry because of the lyrical and emotional style of the prose and the connection I felt with Meg. Which, after all, is really what all the books in this series are about: emotional connection with the people around you. It's a beautiful thing, really.

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