Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle


About six months ago, I saw this book at Target and picked it up with the intention of reading it to my kids. I knew somewhere in my foggy memory of youth I read it, and it did win a Newberry after all. Time to give my lover of Leonardo DiCaprio and my lover of video games some culture. It was sort of a no-brainer that I would review it as a part of my Shelf Discovery Challenge Rampage Month.

I suppose summarizing this book is a moot point, but for those that missed out, here is the gist. Meg, a tween-aged ugly duckling with fly-away hair and braces, her brilliant little brother Charles Wallace, and popular brainiac Calvin O'
Keefe all run into each other one night, and go on an adventure to rescue Meg and Charles' scientist father. He's been missing for a number of years - the townspeople think he ran off with the village tramp, but his family knows it must have something to do with his "work", whatever that is. Meg, Charles and Calvin are whisked off through time and space to another universe with the assistance of some questionable old ladies named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and the Happy Medium.


It seems that a dark force has gained control or attempting to gain control over everything in the cosmos, including Earth. The kids risk their lives to battle IT, which specializes in mind control, and free father from its clutches. Meg learns some great lessons like fighting your fears, and that her humanity can conquer more than she ever imagined.

With the exception of two things, I remember almost nothing about this book. I'm thinking that it went right over my head when I read it in my younger days. The two things that made an impression on my wee mind and my current older one was "the man with the red eyes" (a pretty scary evil minion of IT) and "Aunt Beast" (a maternal alien with tentacles and good-smelling fur). As an adult, I realize there is a very strong overtone of conformity and uniformity in the story - the whole Big Brother and Communism paranoia that was running rampant in the '60's.

Call me dense, but I just couldn't get into it. Go ahead, throw tomatoes at me! This was a 200-ish page read, and it took me SIX days to read it! The characters were one-dimensional, the story convoluted to the point where things just made no sense (maybe this was the point? who knows...), and frankly I was bored. I'm sure this is why I have little recollection of reading it at an early age, but years did not provide a seasoned insight or affection for it. There are a handful of books that follow A Wrinkle of Time in a series, justifying a family tree diagram in the first few pages. I will not be reading them, however.


2 out of 5 stars

31 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

Oh no! Someone mentioned this a few weeks ago and I was planning to read it. It is one of those classics that I missed out on as a child and had hoped it would be good. I'm still interested to find out what it is about, but I'll make sure I borrow it from the library instead of spending my own money on it!

Julie P. said...

I read it as a child and don't think I liked it very much. I am anxious to re-read as an adult. I'm so sorry you were disappointed!!!

Julie P. said...

Don't forget to add your link here - http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/2009/11/shelf-discovery-challenge-book-reports.html

Susan said...

Hmm, I didn't get around to reading this one either. I found a copy at Goodwill a few months ago and planned to find out what all the fuss was about. Guess where it will be going?

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - I don't know Jackie, but maybe its just me. Let's see what everyone else says...

Julie - I don't think I liked it as a kid either. Otherwise I would remember more! Thanks for the reminder again. I've got review after review coming...I promise to try hard not to forget!!!!

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Interesting! I know that I read this as a kid, but before your summary I couldn't have told you what it's about. Too bad that the book didn't hold up for you this time!

Beth F said...

My younger brother read this when he was in elementary school and spent almost a year asking everyone he saw if they had read the book (this was in the 60s).

I remember liking the series when I read them -- a long time ago. I wonder what I'd think now.

caite said...

I have never read this one, but it is one of those books that you always think you should have. So, may not...lol

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I for one am glad to hear it. So far the books I have tried to read for this challenge seem boring! But I suppose it's good that we don't find the same excitement out of books for young kids as we used to!

Alyce said...

I've heard overall that this is one of those reads that doesn't hold up over time. And by that I mean that reading it as a kid seems fine, but as an adult is not as enjoyable. I guess I'll find out myself sometime. I have a copy of it on my shelf and intend to re-read it sometime soon.

bermudaonion said...

I wasn't crazy about this book either, but my son loved it. Maybe it's a gender thing.

The Bumbles said...

Hmmm - I know I read this when I was a kid. I remember nothing about it though. And your plot synopsis doesn't ring any bells either. I do remember I enjoyed it though. I was much more interested in time travel stuff and fantasy when I was a kid - now, not so much. I take it in small doses.

Ti said...

My book club got it in their head to read this one month and I was like, "what's the big deal?" I have since read it again, and I still don't see the draw.

I also tried to pass it off to my kid once and he laughed at me.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Susan - well, it isn't a long book so maybe you should try it. It may be just my mood or something. Although now reading through some of these comments, maybe not!

Amy - I was the same way. I couldn't remember much of anything from this book, which makes me think it didn't have much of an impact on me!

Beth - well, maybe it was "cooler" back before we got all high tech and gadgety. That is cute about your brother!

Caite - proceed at your own risk!!

Jill - actually, I am enjoying my trip back down memory lane overall. This is the one flop so far.

Alyce - well, it didn't hold up for me. And I think if I had read this to the kids, they would have thrown tomatoes at me.

Kathy - well that may be. So far nobody from the male gender has commented yet...

Molly - and I even LIKE time travel, even now!!! I just didn't get it, at all.

Ti - haha! Yeah, I know. As I said above, I wanted to read it to the kids, and they looked at me cross-eyed. The Hunger Games, they'll take. Ok on the Harry Potter. Nada on the classics I guess.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Well you know I'm in no position to judge.....so no tomato throwing from me.

I seem to recall reading and enjoying this as a team....or maybe it was the Perth dragon series....can't remember.

But I do love the Shelf Discovery book, don't you??? I've been having so much fun with that one!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Michele - Yes, I am having a ball with the challenge. I've also read Forever, Then Again Maybe I Won't, Little House in the Big Woods, and Ghosts I Have Been. I'm almost done with Wifey (can we say SMUT???). A Wrinkle in Time is the only one, so far, that hasn't been a total blast to read!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Wifey is next up for me, lol. Also Summer Sisters since I don't remember reading that, altho I'm sure I did.

Michelle said...

I too read this in elementary school and have absolutely NO idea what it is about anymore. For some reason, I remember being very confused about it, but I still went on to read the rest of the series. I actually have no desire to pick it up again (even though I don't remember anything) because the impression left was far from positive. I have not even recommended it to my 9-year-old, who is just an avid a reader as I am. Hopefully, your next one will be better for you!

Alice Teh said...

Hi Sandy! I have this book in my TBR but has delayed reading it time and again. I'm not sure why. But after reading your review, I guess it's going to stay in the pile even longer...

Jenners said...

Gosh ... I remember reading this when I was a kid and loving it ... but it doesn't sound all that familiar when I read your summary. I remember tesseracts and the names (Charles Wallace just really stuck with me) but the rest is lost in the mists of time. I don't think I'll reread it and let it have a good place in my memory.

Carrie K. said...

I remember loving this as a kid - but then I read it aloud to my daughter a couple years ago, and didn't really like it anymore. Weird how time does that!

ds said...

Oh, I'm sorry you didn't care for this one. She is such an interesting writer (but as i always say, every book is not for everybody). Still, your points are well taken. Thanks.

Jeane said...

Oh, how sad! I loved this one when read long ago, and it even stands up to re-reads for me. I liked the second and third books in the series, too- but by the fourth it was getting dull.

Dar said...

I never read this as a kid. I don't even remember it being around. I did take it out from the library a while back but didn't get around to reading it. Too bad you were disappointed by it. Hopefully your next read will be better.

Kathleen said...

I never read this one but my son did and he had the same, exact reaction as you did!

dolcebellezza said...

This book, which I first read in 1974, has always been incredibly meaningful to me. It was the first time I really understood the complete and total healing power of love. It set off a "love affair" with Madeleine's work which has lasted my whole life. Did you notice that Kailana will be hosting a read along of this quartet in January? (Details on her blog, or my sidebar. It would be great to have you join in.)

heidenkind said...

I'm not going to throw tomatoes at you, Sandy. :) I read this book when I was a teenager, because everyone's always saying such wonderful things about it, but I can barely remember it either. I'm pretty sure I finished it, but it was definitely a meh read for me. I haven't had a single urge to read Madeline L'Engel since.

stacybuckeye said...

I remeber loving this books as a kid, but remember next to nothing about it. Too bad it doesn't hold up when reading it as an adult.

Nymeth said...

*throws some tomatoes* :P I'm sorry to hear this one didn't work for you. I read it for the first time two years ago and really enjoyed it, but I think I'd have connected with it more if I had read it as a child.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I remember loving these books as a kid and even have the whole set of them. Sorry to hear they didn't hold up well for you. Honestly, that's why I'm afraid to read any of my childhood faves. I'm afraid none of them will measure up to my memories.

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