Friday, September 14, 2007

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time

I found a matching three book set in the local thrift store while DD#2 was shopping for school clothes. And I'm a sucker for matched sets. So, even though we must have a couple of copies of this book thanks to school assignments, I bought the set anyway.

And then I read that the author, Madeleine L'Engle, has just died. She was 88. Spooky.

The Murry family is highly unusual. Mother has a double Ph.D in biology and chemistry. Father has Ph.D.s in physics and math. Meg, the oldest and only daughter, has a gift for math, but is a misfit in high school. Her mother is a beauty, while Meg has mousy brown hair, braces, and glasses. She has twin brothers, Dennys and Sandy, who are also smart, but manage to blend in with their peers.

And then there is the baby brother, Charles Wallace. Charles was a late talker, but when he did begin to talk, he spoke in complete sentences. He also can "read" his mother and Meg, understanding their deepest thoughts.

At this point, Father has been missing for about a year. The townspeople whisper about the family. Mother ignores it, but Meg is acutely aware of what is being said about her family.

Charles has befriended three unusual women: Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit. That they are not quite of this world becomes evident the night that they run into Calvin O'Keefe, a popular basketball player at Meg's high school who has family problems of his own. Mrs. Who introduces Meg, Charles, and Calvin to the other two and, as it turns out, they know where Dr. Murry is. And when he is.

Ms. L'Engle manages to pack a lot of information into this relatively short (203 pages in my edition) book. There are quotes from Virgil, Seneca, and other famous people, in their native language and in English. The idea of a tesseract and folding time is introduced, along with the ideas about free will and predestination. And how one's strengths can become weaknesses and how weaknesses can be strengths.

Very dense content for what is often considered a "children's" or "young adult" book!

I think this book is easily "misunderestimated" because the protagonists are children. My children have read this in Middle School at our local parochial school--and I think there are a lot of important ideas to discuss if the teacher isn't inhibited by political correctness or moral relativism. Because this book does discuss Evil--Evil is a tangible, real entity that Meg has to confront on her own. Not because she's brave, but because she is the one who has to. Duty is a concept not discussed much these days.

This is a book for the kids who are science geeks; the kids who are "different" from the rest of the pack. The kids who aren't hip to the latest fads or singers or styles. Kids like I was back in the day. And it's a for the adults who can remember being nerds or closet nerds in Middle or high school. I want to see the relationship between Meg and Calvin develop and find out what happens to Charles Wallace.

On the March Hare scale: 4 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks