A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Recommended for: Ages 8 to Adult
Rating: PG (for some scary situations)
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 be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".
Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?
I first read this book for school, I think when I was about seven, and it became one of those books I reread just about every year. It was my first introduction to science fiction, and, aside from it's sequel and E.T., the only sci-fi I knew until I was a teenager. And it makes the eighth childhood favorite book along with all seven Chronicles of Narnia books.
A Wrinkle in Time is an unusual book. With tessering and Camazotz and Aunt Beast and the Happy Medium and the Mrs. W's and the Man with Red Eyes and IT, there really isn't anything quite like it. And yet, it's still a classic tale of good versus evil, of overcoming darkness with light, of family and friendship, of doing the right thing even when it's hard, and of freedom. It is about how important it is to be individuals and not all exactly the same. If you hear me say, "Like and equal are not the same thing," as I quite often do, it comes from A Wrinkle in Time. And the realization, now that I'm older, of just how many quotes in the book come from the Bible only makes it even better.
The characters stick with me, and, I'm sure, will for my whole life. Maybe because I see so much of myself in Meg. Her insecurities, her fear and anger, her impatience and stubbornness, her bad eyesight. Charles Wallace is a dear little brother, so smart and sweet it is heartbreaking when . . . but spoilers. And Calvin. The poor but popular kid who is out of place and uncared about at home and just wants a real family, who is just a very awesome character. They are all different and unique, and have to realize that it is okay, and even good not to be exactly like everyone else.
And there's Camazotz. Such a horrible place. Controlled by IT, surrounded by the Black Thing, where everyone is completely equal, everyone exactly alike, where no one has to suffer weeks of runny noses . . . to be honest, when I first read The Giver, it reminded me of Camazotz. And it's not a good place.
And now I've made myself want to read A Wrinkle in Time yet again. It is quite a book, and well deserving of the Newbery Medal it bears. I've recommended it on many occasions to friends, and recommend it again here. There is a good reason I've loved it for over ten years, and see no signs of ever stopping.