Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
3 stars

Reasons for reading: have always meant to; Sci Fi for the Genre Challenge; 1963 Newbery Medal-winner for the Book Awards Challenge

Description: "It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem."

First line: "It was a dark and stormy night." [Really, that's it!]

My thoughts: I'm just not really a sci-fi gal. I enjoy sci-fi TV and movies more than I used to, thanks to my geek husband, but books, not so much. And I'm finding a lot of the kids' classics I've been reading lately to be quite-feeling dated, including this one. Although the level of sci fi was sort of like the level of fantasy in Harry Potter - based enough in our own world that I could handle it.

That said, I did like the overall message of love being the greatest force in the universe. There's a forward by Anna Quindlen that points out that the creepy sameness of the bad planet they travel to was a reaction against Communism, which was pretty interesting, although it adds a bit to the dated feeling. Although I guess North Americans always tend to struggle against conformity, whatever its form.

The book is one of the ALA's top 100 most-challenged books, apparently because of L'Engle's "liberal" Christianity and its references to witches (of which there are none in the book) and crystal balls. I always love the challenges to books - if putting Jesus on the same list as great artists and writers is all you've got to complain about, you're not looking hard enough and have way too much time on your hands.

The verdict: Not really my bag but I can see why it's a classic. And even if I found the tone a bit dated, the message never gets old.


Katrina said...

I can see how you wouldn't like it. I read it a few months ago I liked all the ways you could teach math and science to kids while also reading this book.

Janssen said...

I read it about two years ago and loved it (listened to it on CD) but when I reread it for a class last year, I found it not nearly as good. I wonder why it changed so much for me in a year?

Melissa O. said...

I'm sorry it wasn't your cup of tea. I haven't read it in quite some time, but I remember loving it and rereading it many times when I was growing up. Would you believe I think the first time I heard of it and what spurred me to read it was a Baby-Sitters Club book? I think one of the characters (Claudia maybe?) had to read it for a class and they mentioned that great first line so I went out and bought the book.

Sorry for the ramble... Great review, btw!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Janssen - maybe you had a really good audio version of it? Or...hmmm...not sure what would have changed. Maybe you'd read more stuff you loved even better? :)

Melissa - That's awesome about the B-S Club spurring you to read it! I like looking up books referenced in other books, especially if I love the characters who are reading them.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Trin - true, I can really see how it would be good for that. I am so not a math girl, so I think that was part of the problem for me! :)