Into the Book


One dark and stormy night, after years of waiting for their missing scientist father to return, a stranger arrives on the doorstep of children Meg and Charles’ house. Dressed in funny old clothes and talking of things from another world, she sweeps Charles, Meg, and their friend Calvin into a dangerous adventure where they must face evil terrors whilst journeying through time and space to find their father. This is Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.

Expectations are funny things, and having heard so much about this book for so many years, I had a barrel full of them. But this book was nothing like I thought it would be, and I’m still trying to decide if I like it or not. The story centres around Meg: an impetuous, fiery girl whose fierce love for her father drives her to face every challenge if only for the hope of seeing him again. She relies a lot upon her younger brother Charles, who can “see beyond” a lot clearer than Meg, and has a confidence she frequently hides behind. Joined by a recent acquaintance of theirs – a boy by the name of Calvin – they quest through time guided by three mysterious, raggedy old ladies who all have different abilities and gifts to aid the trio on their mission. They are challenged by a faceless enemy – known as the “Black Thing” – and ultimately, Meg must come to terms with the fact that her father may not be the answer to all of her problems, and that there are some things in life we must face up to alone.

The best word to describe this book is “eccentric”. The characters are quirky and spontaneous, and the plot jumps around almost as much as the characters do through time (is it about them finding their father, finishing his research, figuring out how to travel through time, defeating the Black Thing, or what?). In terms of reading, the pacing of the book began pretty slow so that it was hard for me to get into, but by the end of it I found it to be going too fast; when I was approaching the finale, I felt much like Marlin from Finding Nemo: “He’s trying to speak to me, I know it!”

I had a feeling the book was trying to be deeply metaphorical, or allegorical (or something) and indeed: there were some really good parallels and subtle statements in the book that resonated well with me. However as a whole, I honestly felt like the book harboured a deep secret that I was too dumb to grasp. The other things that I found really clever-yet-abstract was the inclusion of so many passages of Scripture, right into the middle of the dialogue. Part of me thought it was really cool, and yet the other part of me wondered how the author got away with it.

To sum up, I still don’t know what to think of this book. I really want to love it. I want to adore it. Perhaps I would like it more if I could “see beyond” better myself. It’s a clever read with many hidden messages and delightful quotable gems, but I still get the feeling that it’s laughing at me… That one person not smart enough to get it.


Published on 22 March, 2016. Last updated on

1 Comment

  1. quasipoet

    I love this book, and have read it over and over since I was little. I do think that L’Engle is trying to say something metaphorical in her book, but I don’t know if it’s as complex or hidden as you thought. I think the message of the book has to do with the “light-bearers,” pushing back at the darkness, and the dangers of IT (an evil thing- a brain with no heart). L’Engle says about her writing: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Sometimes adults think very hard about the implications of children’s stories, but the message is really much plainer than we thought. Even as someone who loves the book, I don’t know that I can exactly pin down its exact thesis statement, and I think that’s the point. You have to approach the book as a child would– not as someone who can think analytically about it, but who can think about the world in terms of light and darkness and respond to the book as it makes sense in your heart.

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