Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
245 pages
Elementary School+

Meg hasn't been happy since her father disappeared.  She is struggling in school even though she is smart, has issues with other kids, and tries to get along with her family.  Everyone wants to pick on her quirky little brother who is brilliant, but has issues interacting with people other than Meg.  All in all, Meg is miserable, and doesn't have much hope that it will get better any time soon.

One night, when Meg can't sleep, her little brother Charles introduces her and her mother to Mrs. Whatsit, a strange, wandering old woman who speaks as strangely as she looks.  They snack on some food, and as Mrs. Whatsit is leaving, she mentions something about a tesseract.  Meg's mother pales, and tells Meg and Charles that their father was studying tesseracts before he disappeared.  Confused by this random comment, Meg tries to continue on with life.

The next day at school, Meg meets Calvin, a local boy almost as quirky as Charles.  They talk on the way, and meet Charles in the woods near their house.  Charles leads them into the woods to see Mrs Whatsit again, and meet Mrs. Who, another strange woman.  Together, they start on an adventure to find Meg's father, and join the battle of light versus dark.

This is an older book, but still great!  Has some great themes in it, and helps reach out to kids or teens that feel lonely and outcast.  Meg feels things most teens feel, and finds ways to overcome them.  The journey they go on is as much about understanding themselves as rescuing her father.

Another huge theme is light versus dark.  The enemy's influence is shown by a shadow over a world, the lose of light.  The worlds that have been overcome are signified by loss of light.  The brighter the star, the less influence this enemy has.  Inside that theme, there is definitely a Christian or religious interpretation.  Much like the Chronicles of Narnia, this book, and its sequels, can be read as simply adventure books or as metaphors for religious symbols.

With the light and dark theme, is also the theme of individual thought versus conformity. In their adventure, they come across a city that every home is exactly the same, the kids bounce the ball at the same time, and the mothers call the kids in at the exact same moment.  Everything is standardized and breaking away from the standard is punished.  The author really pushes the idea that thinking for yourself is the best thing to do.

Overall, great book with lots of interesting themes that could be discussed.  While published years ago, still has modern value and application.  Many other themes could be discussed, such as family relationships, bullying, hope, bravery, and second chances.  Very good!  I would recommend this for boys and girls, later elementary and older.  Nothing inappropriate, just probably more interesting to that age, rather than earlier.  Any scientific concepts are explained, so science is not a barrier to understanding the book.

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