A Wrinkle in Time is one of those books that I’ve been hearing about for a while. It’s an older book, so it doesn’t have the ‘buzz’ of a recent release, but I’ve heard enough to know that I should have read it a long time ago. Having read it now, I kind of wish I had read it before, as I could easily see my younger self becoming entranced by it. The story centers on Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe, as they go to unimaginable lengths to find and rescure Meg and Charles Wallace’s father.
I actually knew nothing of what the book was about before I started reading it, and I’m so glad that I went in with a blank slate, as I got to be as bewildered and confused by things as the characters themselves were. What starts off as a relatively normal story about a troubled girl and her family quickly takes a turn for the strange as we meet the Mrs Ws – Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which. A seeming coincidence brings Calvin into the picture, and then off we go into the heavens.
L’Engle’s writing is a perfect mixture of grounded character work and fantastical situations. The narrative focus is on Meg and her thoughts, but the dialogue does a nice job giving each of the other characters a personality. Charles Wallace, in particular, is wonderfully mysterious, exceptionally well-spoken for a five year old, to the point that it was easy to forget how young he was. The physical descriptions create an easily-envisionable world for the reader. I can readily recall how the Mrs Ws look – or don’t look, for that matter – and each locale that is visited over the course of the book is described in exceptional detail, as is the ‘wrinkle in time’ itself, to the point that the reader can clearly imagine what it would feel like to tesser.
If I have a complaint about the book, it’s that I wanted more of it. The worlds are so well-envisioned, and the concepts so intriguing, that it’s hard to imagine that L’Engle didn’t have notebooks worth of material written that she never included in the book. Similarly, several ‘big bads’ are introduced in the book, but none of them is seemingly defeated. They rescue Mr. Murry, but the force that was holding him captive is still active, as is the mysterious ‘Dark Thing’ that apparently threatens the entire universe. I only learned after finishing this book that there are more in the series, so presumably the Murrys finish the job in those, but as a standalone story I was left mildly unsatisfied by that aspect.
But that’s a nitpick about what was otherwise an enthralling and entertaining read. I will, in all probability, read the other books in the series at some point. The characters and the concepts introduced in A Wrinkle in Time are too strong to ignore for long, and L’Engle has created a world in which truly anything is possible.