It would appear that we can officially add A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle to the list of books that I was sure that I loved as a child until I read it aloud to my daughter and realized that either I had forgotten everything about it or, more likely, I had actually never read it at all. I just thought that I did.
How did I miss out on reading this classic during all my years of childhood bookishness? It's hard to say, but my guess is that my teachers were too busy having me read things like Island of the Blue Dolphins and Bridge to Teribithia and other books that make you cry, like the endless permutations on the story where the boy has dog that he really loves and then it dies. Whatever the case may be, I have now officially read A Wrinkle in Time, and I am probably quite a bit better off for it.
The first in a series of five popularly titled The Time Quintet, A Wrinkle in Time is told from the perspective of Meg, a teenage genius uncomfortably trapped in a daily routine that leaves her feeling like she never quite belongs anywhere. The disappearance of Meg's father, the secret nature of his classified scientific work for the government, and a series of unexpected meetings with a trio of old women (as well as with an eqully intelligent, if better adjusted, neighbor boy) eventually lead Meg and her gifted younger brother, Charles Wallace, on an adventure of otherworldly proportions. Indeed, A Wrinkle in Time is known for being a true classic of science fiction for young readers because as much as it begins in Meg's kitchen on a stormy October evening, the story quickly takes up residence on a series of far away planets where Meg learns the importance of trust, courage, forgiveness and love. The story is fast paced, full of unexpected and wholly riveting plot twists and includes unique takes on some favorite science fiction plot conventions.
Meg's discovery of the power of love and loyalty leads the story to a satisfying conclusion, to be sure, but before that happens, the story brings some significant dramatic tension to the table. Indeed, I had a moment where I thought that I had made my biggest read aloud error of judgement since The BFG (after which I had to stand outside the bathroom door everytime Mariam brushed her teeth for a good six months and check outside her bedroom window for giants). So I would certainly caution parents of sensitive kids to approach carefully. There was one chapter that scared the proverbial pants off of the both of us, and my girl definitely struggled to get to sleep that night. However, the book's conclusion wasn't far behind that tense moment, which was helpful, and in the end, Mariam absolutely loved the book and is looking forward to the next.
I am curious though... Five books is a big commitment in the scheme of read aloud things. Has anyone out there read the entire Quintet? Do you recommend it? I know that A Swiftly Tilting Planet is also supposed to be fantastic but I am certainly curious about the other titles now and would love to hear any feedback you might have!