'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Review: A Wrinkle in Time

I’m sure most of you know by now that the classic book, A Wrinkle in Time, has been made into a movie, which is currently gracing our screens.

This new movie edition of the book features a movie inspired cover, an introduction by the director of the movie, Ava DuVernay, and a fascinating Afterward by Charlotte Jones Voiklis, the granddaughter of Madeliene L’Engle.

However, this review is about the book. The one that has been loved by generations of children since its publication in 1962. The book that was a trailblazer in science fiction and that tackled the big questions of science and spirituality in a way no one had dared do before.

This is the story of 12 year old Meg, who must go on an unusual and fantastical adventure to save her father. Things are not going well for Meg. She is smart, just not in the way school appreciates. She can give them the answer to a maths question, but she can’t figure out the processes she is supposed to go through to get there.

Then there is the teasing. Kids can be mean. Especially when your father has mysteriously disappeared and people think your beloved little brother, Charles Wallace, is stupid.

The only person who really understands her is Charles Wallace. Although he doesn’t talk in front of many other people, he somehow understands things that others don’t. He knows when she needs him and he knows what needs to be done.

One dark and stormy night, a stranger arrives at their house. Everyone, except Charles Wallace, is astonished at the arrival of the very unusual Mrs Whatsit.

What follows is an amazing adventure, in which Meg, Charles Wallace, and their new friend Calvin, must journey through time and space with Mrs Whatsit and her companions, Mrs Who and Mrs Which, in order to try and save Meg and Charles Wallace’s father.

Their landing on the disturbing planet of Camazotz, where everyone is controlled by IT, has some parallels with Orwell’s 1984. It is a totalitarian dystopia where a central body is dictating everyone’s thoughts and actions. Through the journey, Meg must learn to embrace her faults to confront the darkness if she wants to save her father and make it home again.

Reading this book now, I am struck by how modern it is. The language is not out of date or old fashioned and the science fiction elements have not been superseded by modern technological concepts. It could just as easily be a new release, donning our shelves for the first time.

Just to prove this point, I had my eight-year-old read it. She asked a lot of questions about the feasibility of time and space travel (which I couldn’t really answer…) but did not even comment about the language being different or old. I think Madeleine L’Engle was well ahead of her time!

Meg is a character modern children can relate to. Different, awkward and loyal to her family, she is likeable and real.

Can you believe that this book was rejected by many publishers in its time as they didn’t know how to categorise it? It was only by chance that the book was published, and it went on to win the Newbery Medal and has never been out of print since.

This longstanding classic of children’s literature has stood the test of time and continues to enrapture audiences as well as it did 60 years ago. My advice, read the book first. Then, if you love it, see the film.

Title: A Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeline L'Engle
Publisher: Penguin Books, $14.99
Publication Date: 29 January 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780241331163
For ages: 8+
Type: Middle Grade