A Wrinkle in Time
A book review for parents
This first science fiction/fantasy book in the "Time Quartet" series by Madeleine L'Engle is published by Square Fish, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press.
A Wrinkle in Time is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
No one has heard from Meg Murray's physicist father in more than a year — then Meg and her precocious brother, Charles Wallace, meet Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which (the Mrs. Ws). The strange women tell the children that their father is in danger, and it's up to them (the kids) to travel through space and time to find him. Along with their new friend, Calvin, Meg and Charles Wallace learn about tessering or traveling into a fifth dimension through a "wrinkle" in time. Their father discovered how to tesser, which led to his imprisonment on the planet Camazotz by an evil disembodied brain known as IT. As they attempt to rescue Mr. Murray, Charles Wallace falls prey to IT's mind control. Meg, Calvin and Mr. Murray escape to the planet Ixchel where the Mrs. Ws and helpful, blind creatures (including Meg's caregiver, Aunt Beast) teach Meg what she must do to rescue her brother and return home.
Charles Wallace, the Mrs. Ws and Aunt Beast all acknowledge God and Christ, though they don't all know Him by the same name because of language differences on their various planets. On one planet, creatures sing verses from Isaiah 42. Aunt Beast, after saying that good and light guide her people, quotes from 2 Corinthians 4. Mrs. Who quotes 1 Corinthians 1, and Mr. Murray notes that all things work together for good for those who love God. Mrs. Who speaks about the light shining in the darkness but the darkness not understanding it. Christ is mentioned in this discussion as One who brought light, but so are well-known authors, scientists and religious leaders (including Ghandi and Buddha). Charles Wallace has Calvin read him the book of Genesis as a bedtime story. The Dark Thing and IT both exemplify evil. The Dark Thing hangs over the earth and other planets like a smoky haze, and IT manipulates and controls everyone it can inhabit.
Mrs. Murray is a scientist who writes faithfully to her husband and tries to find him, despite not hearing from him in more than a year. Meanwhile, she maintains a brave face in front of her four children. Mr. Murray, also a scientist working for the government, has been trapped by IT on Camazotz. He longs to protect his family but has been unable to get back to them and, ultimately, can't be the one to save his young son from IT. Calvin's mother beats her children and screams at them. The Mrs. Ws, Aunt Beast and others on the planet Ixchel care for Meg, Calvin and Mr. Murray. They are loving but firm, refusing to allow Meg in particular to behave in a hateful manner to others. IT cruelly manipulates everyone he can, attempting to convince them that life will be much easier if they leave the thinking to him.
Other Belief Systems
The Mrs. Ws use magic to travel through space and change themselves into other forms. These ladies take the children to visit the Happy Medium, a turban-wearing woman who can look at other worlds through her crystal ball. The Happy Medium tells Calvin that kissing her will bring him good luck. Mrs. Whatsit tells Meg if she stays angry, she won't have room for fear.
Kisses are innocent. Each of the children gives the Happy Medium a goodbye kiss. Calvin kisses Meg before she tessers back to Camazotz to get her brother. Charles Wallace gives Mrs. Whatsit a kiss of appreciation when he learns she was once a star who gave her life to fight the darkness.
Newbery Medal, 1963 and more
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Many Christians disagree about whether A Wrinkle in Time is a Christian-based book. Opponents of the book dislike elements such as tessering, the crystal-ball-wielding Happy Medium and the fact that Christ is mentioned alongside human artists, authors and religious leaders as people who brought light to the world.
What do you think?
What aspects of the book honor God?
What aspects, if any, do you feel dishonor Him?
- Why do you think the author used a giant brain to symbolize evil in this book?
- At first, Meg wishes she could be more like other people.
What do you think she learned from her interactions with people who were different — Aunt Beast and the Mrs. Ws?
How are you different from others, and how can you use that uniqueness to glorify God?
- What did you think of Mrs. Murray's comment, "Just because we don't understand doesn't mean an explanation doesn't exist"?
- Though Madeline L'Engle made a living using words, critics often note that she clearly addresses the inadequacy of language in this book. The different languages and dialects of the characters cause confusion among them. Additionally, words and human understanding can't conquer IT. In the end, only love overcomes IT's power.
How did God overcome the language barrier between us and Him? See John 1:14.
What part did love play?
Note: The author received the Margaret A. Edwards award in 1998, honoring her lifetime contribution of writing for teens.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.