Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1)
Madeleine L’Engle
Originally published in 1962, winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal
Square Fish, 2007
$6.99, Paperback
April 30th, 2012

Genre: Science Fiction
Age: 10+
Description: Meg Murry is seen as a troublesome student, while her family knows she’s destined for great things. Her parents are great scientists, her father is missing, she has 10-year-old twin brothers (Sandy and Dennys) and a five-year-old younger brother Charles Wallace who happens to be a child genius. Unable to sleep during a thunderstorm one night, Meg leaves her room to find Charles Wallace has already prepared her hot cocoa in the kitchen. Soon they are joined by their mother and are then visited by a new eccentric neighbor, Mrs Whatsit. While chatting, Mrs Whatsit casually mentions a tesseract, which causes Mrs. Murry to almost faint. The next morning, Meg discovers the term refers to a scientific concept her father was working on before his mysterious disappearance. The following afternoon, Meg and Charles Wallace team up with Meg’s schoolmate, Calvin O’Keefe, to go to the home of Mrs Whatsit. There they encounter Mrs Who, who promises that she and her friends will help Meg find and rescue her father. Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which turn out to be supernatural beings that transport the kids through the universe by means of tesseract, something similar to folding the fabric of space and time. Their first stop is the planet Uriel, where they learn that the universe is under attack from an evil being called The Black Thing. They then travel to the dark planet of Camazotz which is entirely dominated by the Black Thing, and is where Meg’s father is trapped. The planet turns out to be controlled by an evil disembodied brain with powerful telepathic abilities, which the inhabitants of call “IT”. To escape, Dr. Murry “tessers” Calvin, Meg, and himself away from Camazotz, but Charles Wallace is left behind, under the influence of IT. The three Ws charge Meg with rescuing Charles Wallace. To help aid her, they each give her gifts. When Meg confronts IT she realizes that the one thing she has that IT does not is love. She focuses all her love at Charles Wallace and is able to free him from IT’s control. Everyone is then reunited.
Opinion: Unfortunately, I’ve read this novel a lot—first in sixth grade and then again over the years for various classroom reasons. I have never liked it. A Wrinkle in Time is a mainly a book about the eternal and universal theme of the battle between good and evil. The lessons the book teach children are mainly shown through the growth of the central character, Meg, an awkward girl who feels she is completely alienated from her normal world. One of the biggest lessons that Meg learns is that conformity is not always the greatest thing in the world and that everyone should want to be different and should appreciate their uniqueness and not take it for granted. At the beginning of the novel, Meg is an awkward teenager finding it hard to fit in anywhere. She complains to her mother about being “an oddball” and how she tries to pretend to be just like everyone else but finds that it doesn’t usually work. Meg soon learns the price of conformity when she sees how it has affected life on the planet Camazotz. Camazotz is the epitome of a world devoid of creativity and individuality—it is Meg’s desire for conformity taken to the extremes. All the residents have to do the same thing as everyone else—there is no room for deviation. The inhabitants of this world have to be in total synchronicity with each other so that there is no room or individual freedom and happiness. Individuality is punished. Only in her argument with the “possessed” Charles does Meg realize that conformity isn’t all that great. He tries to convince her that everyone on the planet loves their lives because nobody suffers and nobody is unhappy because nobody ever has anything to worry about—IT takes care of all that. Meg realizes that Camazotz isn’t a great place because “nobody’s ever happy either”. Everyone just lives the same dull life without a choice for individuality. Only when Meg sees the evil of conformity over the residents of Camazotz does she really begin to appreciate how different she is from everyone else. The book, which is religious in its overtones, is a classic and many tweens and teens will continue to read it throughout the upcoming years. There is, however, a graphic novel version coming out later this year (that is LONG!) that I will read as I think the story could translate to graphic novel format nicely.

1 comment:

  1. I have never liked this book either. In fact, it had a great deal to do with my dislike of Science Fiction for a very long time.