A Wrinkle In Time (Time Quintet #1)

by Madeleine L'Engle

Hardcover, 1991



Local notes

Fic L'En




Farrar, Straus And Giroux (1991), 203 pages


Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.

Original publication date


Physical description

203 p.; 8.3 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Kplatypus
This was a terrible book. Between the stilted writing, the contrived and cliched plot, and the insufferable characters, I have nothing good to say about it. Why this book is considered a classic is a mystery to me.

I first read it in junior high, as a school assignment. At 10, I found it confusing,
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trite, and pointless. Now, at 28, I agree. The plot is vague, as far as any ultimate goal goes. Sure, we know that Meg, the protagonist, wants her father back, and that she must fight "IT" to get him back, and that "IT" is connected to the shadow that is threatening Earth. Why her father is involved is never really explained. What the deal with her little brother is- is never explained. Who the three old women are- is never explained. What's really going on with "IT" is never really explained. I don't always mind when authors leave things up to the reader, but I do mind when the author appears to have simply been too lazy to create any kind of cohesive story, and that's how A Wrinkle in Time felt to me.

And then there are the religious overtones. They were not only overt and preposterous, they are unnecessary to the book and they are hackneyed. During the climactic scene, I could not help rolling my eyes. I don't think it would be possible to write a more predictable, trite, and preachy book if one were to try. It felt like this book was mainly the author's attempt to preach about her religious and social beliefs, and that the "plot," to use the term loosely, was merely a vehicle for doing so.

Read this book or not, as you choose. I know other people love it; I just don't know why. Personally, I wish I could have the few hours of my life spent reading this book back, not to mention the brain cells that were killed by its hideousness.
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LibraryThing member richardderus
Rating: 4* of five

The Book Report: Meg Murry's daddy left home unexpectedly and without saying goodbye. The adored parent left behind an adolescent daughter, three sons, and a beautiful and smart wife. Meg cannot make herself get used to his absence and can't even pretend that she's not hurt by the
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town's opinion that he ran off leaving her mother. This, plus braces, wildly curly hair, an intelligence far greater than her contemporaries', and glasses, isolate the girl with her even weirder little brother Charles Wallace against their normal brothers and the rest of the world.

In time-honored tradition, these misfits are actually being prepared to fight the ultimate battle of Good Versus Evil, no pressure on the children no no no, and save their Daddy, not like it's gettin' piled even higher oh no! One fine day, Meg and Charles Wallace are called to their destiny by Mrs Which, Mrs Who, and Mrs Whatsit, the eccentric old ladies who prove to be avatars of interdimensional good beings with the agenda of making the Universe safe for goodness and happiness again.

The children are joined by fellow misfit Calvin, a popular boy athlete in their town whose hidden depths have tormented him all his life, in the quest to make the evil entity, a disembodied brain called "IT," that slowly takes over planets and compels all life thereon to submit to being in a group mind, erasing individuality and leaching away happiness.

This is a YA novel, so all turns out well, with Mr. Murry coming home and the children being brought home all safe and sound.

My Review: But how they get home is very interesting: They travel via tesseract, a geometric figure that extends into a fifth dimension beyond spacetime. Mr. and Mrs. Murry have been researching this in their roles as scientists, and Mr. Murry has used the tesseract to get to the planet from which he's rescued. The Mrs Who/Which/Whatsit interdimensional beings use the tesseract to "tesser" or wrinkle the fabric of spacetime to get the children there as well.

Fascinating stuff for a Christian housewife to be writing about in 1960-1961! And make no mistake, the book is a very Christianity-infested Message about the perils of brains without hearts leading to Communistic group-think. Mrs. Murry, a capable scientist, stays home with the kiddos and makes dinner over Bunsen burners so she can keep working while she stays home to be a wife and mom. Ew.

And Meg, poor lamb, worries that she's not pretty enough because she needs braces and glasses and she's not all gorgeous like her mom is. Then Calvin, a popular boy and an athlete, shows hidden depths and falls for little Meg. So bells ring, doves coo, and hands are held, so all is well. Ew.

But it ain't Twilight, so I'm good with it. In fact, because I first read it before I was ten, I'm good with all of it. The stiff, unrealistic dialogue, the socially regressive and reprehensible messages, the religiosity...all get a benign half-smile and an indulgent wink.

Because sometimes you just need to know that someone out there believes that good CAN triumph over evil.
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LibraryThing member miss_read
This is another re-read of one of my favourites from childhood, but my memory of it was completely off-base. It's as if my 12-year-old mind latched onto just a few pages of this book and forgot all the rest. In my memory, it was all about science, quantum physics and the concept of the tesseract. I
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remember reading it and feeling so grownup and ... scientific.

But on re-reading it, it's just a big pile of religious twaddle! The book's overt emphasis on Christianity really left me feeling very unsettled. In addition, the language L'Engle uses is so dated it's laughable. I'm not even sure people spoke that way in the early '60s when she wrote the book. Did people really go around saying, "Jeepers!" and calling women "dames"?

Of all my childhood re-reads, this is the only one which has disappointed me so far.

Having said that, I do wish I had an Aunt Beast of my very own!
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LibraryThing member BenjaminHahn
I had a few problems with this story. Firstly, the characters seemed undeveloped and the whole story arc seemed rushed. I felt that there was little time to get to know these children that were supposed to be the central characters. The usual polarity of good vs. evil was strange in that there are
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lots of christian evocations spouted out by the old crones but it never really gets at why there is this dark shadow trying to envelope earth. The "IT" as L'Engle so originally names the villain is supposed to be the manifestation of evil yet it highly values order and rules, which led me to assume that the "light" or goodness preferred chaos and choice and the free will. This was strange for me since I usually associate that type of free will/chaos motif in christian fiction as being of the devil and order/rules associated with goodness and god. Here it seemed to be reversed, which was about the only interesting thing in the book. I didn't know what to make of L'Engle's mixing of science lingo (tesseracts) and the spiritual quote dropping she kept throwing in the mouths of all this transdimensional beings. If you are going to try and blend science and christianity I think it needs a little bit more finesse than she seemed to put forth. Lastly, there are all the logical holes in the plot line, not least of which was how the "heroine" is able to tesseract away from the "IT" in the end of the book with her brother. Furthermore, how does her dad know how to bend space and time? He seems to be able to do this just by thinking about it. Wha? Just a little bit of plausibility would of helped this book out a lot. But hey, it was written in the 60's, plus I think I read a large number of publishers turned L'Engle down before a family friend helped her get it printed. Maybe they thought no one would really read it.

One more thing, and I think this really bothered me, is the action in the book is centered around fixing problems made by other characters. The humans in the book are pretty ignorant of anything going on throughout the whole story. The dad messed up and got stuck on some planet, and then the kids mess up in trying to find them, and then the climax is daughter rescuing the brother who messed up earlier. Everyone ends up back home in England in the end and we have no idea why any of this happened. I just don't get how this book has become such a popular children's story. It doesn't make any sense.

As an aside, Charles Wallace's name reminded me of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, the two people credited with simultaneously working out the theory of evolution independently of each other. Coincidence?
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LibraryThing member calotype
Possibly because it was forced on me, I didn't like it then and, upon re-reading it years later, don't care for it now. I preferred, and asked for, Dickens - but was given this as "more suitable." At age ten I found the story tedious and far-fetched -- a transparent cover for a Sunday School
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lesson. My opinion, of course, is a minority opinion and very personal, but all the same if I am any indication the book is not a sure-fire hit for every child.
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LibraryThing member mandochild
I remember vividly when Tam first handed a copy of this book to me and suggested that I borrow it. I can't remember whatever possessed me to look at it while I was still at her place (how rude!) - all I remember is the vague way I looked at her when I reached the end of the first chapter, and her
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laughing as she waved me out the door.

Now, more than 20 years later, when I revisit my first L'Engle experience for the first time, I am frustrated by it to a certain degree. It seems so very young and simplistic - too many nice, easy answers along the lines of "love conquers all." A bit like Harry Potter really, when you think about it!! I wish it had more meat to it, and I wish that Meg wasn't so annoyingly rude and badly behaved. And yet I see also the magic that drew me in the first time and started my whole love affair with her books. I can't wait to reread them all in a logical order.

One thing did interest me: the tendency of Meg's family to not overly censure her for her anger management issues etc. They simply accept her development process as it is and make sure she is fully aware of how her personality traits can be both beneficial and disadvantagerous. They calmly accept poor grades at school and tell her that she will experience fewer problems when she feels able to be less upset by her school experience. Brave parents!

I am disappointed that this book isn't as special as I remembered it to be, but I still love it for what it has meant to me in my reading journey.
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LibraryThing member CBJames
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle was one of my favorite books of all time, back when I was 13. It was one of those books that opened up a new world of reading for me. I read all of the sequels that existed, at the time just two, and everything I could find by Ms. L'Engle at my local and
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school library. Everything. To this day I recall the chapter about the man with red eyes just about every time I enter a new subdivision with its rows of nearly identical houses. I expect every front door to open and one boy and one girl to simultaneously come out of each with a ball and a jump rope and for them all to begin jumping and bouncing in perfect unison, just like they do A Wrinkle in Time.

For several years I've had a set of five copies in my classroom, an option for my students' book clubs to select. This month, at long last, one group finally chose it, so I decided to re-read it along with them. Recently, Sam over at Book Chase wondered if he should re-read a book he loved back in college. Turns out he is right to hesitate before going back to revisit a book he loved 20 plus years ago. This is not to say that A Wrinkle in Time is a bad book, not by any means, it's just not what I remembered.

The story concerns three children, Meg, Charles and Calvin. Meg Wallace,the central character in the book, is the daughter of genius parents. Her father is a renowned government scientist who has been missing for several years. The government will not tell the Wallace family everything, but they do know that he was lost while working on tesseract, a method of bending three dimensional space around a fourth dimension in order to travel extremely long distances between planets. Charles is Meg's youngest brother, also a genius and Calvin is the new boy next door, too smart to fit in with his large family of very normal siblings. Meg wishes she could fit in, be closer to normal like her twin brothers who show no sign of possessing extraordinary ability or powers the way Charles does.

Enter the three witches: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who. These three elderly ladies have moved into a run down house long believed to be haunted. Charles befriends and introduces them to Meg and Calvin. They help the children begin a journey to rescue the lost Mr. Wallace by teaching them how to tesseract. Eventually they learn the true identity of the three witches and Meg learns a lesson about the power of love and that what she saw as her own faults are really her strengths.

But for me, A Wrinkle in Time has always been about the man with red eyes. His planet is a perfect looking American suburb, where all of the children look and act the same, to the point that when every little girl jumps rope, every rope hits the ground at the same time. Any child who deviates from this norm is subjected to retraining that lasts until that child is broken and remolded into one who will cooperate and get along with everyone else by being like everyone else. It has been suggested that Ms. L'Engle was critiquing Soviet style communism here, but it seemed like suburban California to me when I was 13 and lived in an all white town where every fourth house had the same floor plan, and still felt that way when I re-read the book this week. Meg, who sees herself as someone who cannot get along with the culture on her own world, is horrified by what she sees on his planet and by what happens to the one boy who does not fit in with the others.

It turns out that I had forgotten everything that happened after the man with the red eyes. That was the end of the book as far as I was concerned, but it actually goes on for several more chapters. Chapters that I did not like this time around, unfortunately. The actual ending struck me as so simplistic that it was very hard to believe, and it turned out to be kind of preachy. But, I suspect, in spite of this, that the next time I find myself in a new subdivision, I'll still have a moment when I wait for all of the doors to open at once and for identical children to come out of each house and begin their play, in unison like they all did 30 years ago when I first read A Wrinkle in Time.
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LibraryThing member ablueidol
Cold war CIA funded children's novel or what!) Of its time and NOT going near my kids..C.S.Lewis does it better!
LibraryThing member Pdore
One of the great hippie books of all time. One funky family against a planet of corporate conformity. And Meg was every kid in the 70's. Make sure your own kids read it at some point.
LibraryThing member gardenganic
Still riveting as an adult!
LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
If you like christian propaganda, this is the book for you. Unfortunately, I didn't know about the evangelical purpose and thought this was just a very good story about a loving family, intelligent quirky kids, alternate universes and time travel. It takes about 2/3 of the book before the
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proselytizing gets heavy. Too bad, I was thinking it was a good book.
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LibraryThing member BeingBing
The frequent quoting of scriptures and mention of Jesus and God made me a bit uncomfortable, and unfortunately that may be enough to turn me away from the rest of the series, even if the book was charming and entertaining.
LibraryThing member krizia_lazaro
It has a different effect when I was in grade 5 and now that I'm an adult but it is still a haunting read. A lot of similarities with "Harry Potter", its protagonist, Meg, was given a task to do along like Harry (looking for Horcruxes). The difference between Meg and IT was love. IT was incapable
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of loving and being loved just like Voldemort. Love did play a great deal in this book. It just shows us that you don't need ROMANTIC love to make a book work.
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LibraryThing member oxlena
I've read this book about five times over the course of eight years, and it never ceases to amaze me. It's like juvenile Edgar Rice Burroughs. It has wit, humor, thought-provoking ideas, strange creatures, and mind-bending worlds. 4 out of 5 reasons I'm glad I'm not able to launch into different
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dimensions; those oxygen-less ones really suck.
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LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
Hummmm. This is mightily inventive. The Mrses. Whatsit, Who and Which are fun (although I got mightily tired of Who's quotations and the general 1950s "being clever means knowing big words and/or obscure facts and/or having a facility for doing math quickly in your head" thing). The Beasts are so
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lovely and I remember them best from reading this as a kid.

But what i can't remember from reading this as a kid is how far through it I actually got - most individual scenes are memorable,but it doesn't cohere very well as a narrative. There is way too much time spent at the start f*ck*ng around in their little town. It is didactic and proper - you can tell Charles Wallace is turning evil because, horrors, he calls his dad "Pops" not "Father." And everything just happens too fast, in a psychologically unrealistic way. Even in Narnia, some winning around of the talking mice and dwarves and whatnot was always necessary (by Prince Casipan, say) before they all fall on their knees and go "High King! I love you because we are on the same side!" And that was in a medieval milieu where "love" can be taken as meaning something different. This is modern, and the characters seem to form allegiances unrealitically swiftly for the convenience of the narrative.

And actually, a lot of their actions are for the convenience of the narrative. Which, once again, is fime in a fairy story, but not when you're trying to be all mid-20th century positivist sciency. I'll give you one example: when Charles Wallace is taken over by IT (exactly what you'd call yourself when you want to rule over a totalitarian state and be loved and feared, right? Not "Big Brother" or "Rev. Moon," but "IT"?), he is walking toward the dude and the guards somehow don't intervene when Meg tackles him - there's just enough time for her to act and fail, like in D&D when you want to make a setback for your party a little easier to bear so you give the illusion that they could have stopped it with a higher roll?

So yeah, the choreography shows in the business and mood swings, and the dialogue is stilted and the Christianity intrusive (but looking at the other reviews, give her a break, guys - it's not CS Lewis intrusive) but still - hugely inventive and unique.

Except for "IT", I mean. I dunno. I like this book, perhaps unaccountably, but I keep going back to add further negative notes, so maybe I'll just revise its rating downward.
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LibraryThing member sandpiper
A truly lovely book. Although I'd never read it before, it felt like a classic I was rereading. L'Engle seems to have the knack of writing children, and for children, without seeming childish. I cried more than once. Aunt Beast is a character who will stay with me.
LibraryThing member salimbol
Intelligent and humane and sometimes poetic, 'A Wrinkle in Time' deals with some weighty themes and has a sympathetic (if frequently annoying - and therefore realistic) teenage protagonist; I can see why it's regarded as a classic. However, lots of heavy-handed Christian allegory and awkward spots
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where it shows its age, particularly with regard to gender issues (though in many respects it's very progressive, especially for the time in which it was written) meant that I admired this book without necessarily liking it that much.
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LibraryThing member Cait86
A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favourite books when I was younger. I know I read the entire series, but I really have no memory of the other three, only the first. Despite being several years older than the recommended reading level for this book, I still loved it. The characters are as well-drawn
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as ever, and the places they visit still seem magical - and the ideas about space travel still confuse the heck out of me!

A Wrinkle in Time is about three children, Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe. Mr. and Mrs. Murry are both scientists, and Mr. Murry has been missing for over a year. He was working on a top-secret mission for the government, and one day his letters just stopped coming. Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin meet three mysterious old women: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Together, the six of them set out to save Mr. Murry. Their journey takes them through space to new worlds, both good and evil, as the children confront dangers they never imagined existed.

Mrs. Who is my favourite character - I love her constant quoting of famous passages. Meg is very relatable as a girl who feels out of place all the time, and Mr. and Mrs. Murry seem like wonderful parents. I truly enjoyed reading this again after many years.

My only negative about A Wrinkle in Time was that it was much more preachy than I remembered. Maybe it is because I do not come from a religious upbringing, but I did not notice it when I was a child that this book is full of references to God and the Bible. I found L'Engle to be pushing her own beliefs a bit. Now that I think of it, I was always a fan of her Vicky Austin books as well, and they included many passages on Christianity as well. Not that I think this is always a bad thing, but it is something to note, especially if parents of non-Christian homes give these books to their children to read.

All of that put aside, I still loved reading this book, and felt like I was reliving a part of my childhood!
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LibraryThing member Florinda
It's hard for me to be objective about this book. I've read A Wrinkle in Time more times than I can recall, but can't recall when I last read it - I suspect it was at least twenty years ago, meaning it's been far too long. I decided that Banned Books Week would be a good time to reacquaint myself
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with a novel that I have frequently listed among my all-time favorites, although I was a little nervous - would it still have a spot on that list after I finished it?

I needn't have worried. This is a novel that never gets old, but it seems that as I've gotten older, I've found more ways to appreciate it. The story of a fairly ordinary family - well, both parents are brilliant scientists, the eldest child's a misfit, and the youngest is more than a little unusual, but they're fairly ordinary aside from that - and a very out-of-the-ordinary adventure, A Wrinkle in Time incorporates elements of science fiction and fantasy and considers matters of philosophy and morality, and is written with appeal to readers of all ages. While this book won the Newbery Award, Madeleine L'Engle said that she didn't intentionally write it for children; at any rate, she certainly didn't write it down to children.

There are many things I have always loved about this book. Meg and Calvin are two of my favorite characters in any fiction, but I think I've grown fonder of Meg's parents - both Dr. Murrys - since I last saw them. Charles Wallace, however, strikes me as more enigmatic than I remembered; he's not exactly convincing as a five-year-old, but I'm pretty sure he's not supposed to be. Parents are imperfect and fallible, and children struggle to figure things out, but even under great stress and strain, the love and respect between family members can help hold things together.

In the Author's Introduction to this edition of A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle says that "In the Time novels, Meg...asks some big questions. Many of us ask these questions as we're growing up, but we tend to let them go because there's so much else to do. I write the books I do because I'm still asking the questions." It's handling those Big Questions that have made this book a modern classic - faith and reason, individuality and community, Good and Evil - and kept it a fixture on the banned/challenged books lists. However, one thing that's never struck me as being in question - in this novel or in others by the author - is that religious belief and scientific thought can not only coexist, they can inform and reinforce one another.

Revisiting A Wrinkle in Time put me in mind of another novel I've grown to love that also considers the Big Questions and the relationship between science and spirituality, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. Seeing the commonalities between them may have made me love A Wrinkle in Time even more.
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LibraryThing member 1morechapter
I listened to this book on CD with my sons on a short road trip. All three of us enjoyed it very much. Meg Murry is a girl whose parents are both scientists. Consequently her family is a little different than others. She and Charles Wallace, her littlest brother, get made fun of at school because
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everyone thinks they're either stupid or not living up to their potential. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Her twin brothers are more normal so they fit in.

Their father works for the government and has been missing for a few years. The search for Mr. Murry, with a little help from Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, takes them on a journey too incredible to imagine. Three sequels follow that each of us plan on reading this year or next.
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LibraryThing member Osbaldistone
L'Engle has crafted a wonderful book, which is no great insight considering its continuing popularity. I read this at age 51 for the first time after my 8-year old told me it was great.

Having young children makes it easier, I think, to get into a book such as this. L'Engle has done a fine job of
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fleshing out the main protagonist so the young reader can empathize and understand her motivation.

The story is science fiction/fantasy on the surface, but it's a classic story about standing up to evil, doing your duty, and having faith that love will triumph. Added to the main story are bits about being different, fitting in, relationship with parents and siblings, and other 'every day' issues that are important to a kid.

Highly recommended. Now my son's starting the sequel - we'll see how well it holds up.

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LibraryThing member eecnelsen
Children might find this book fun. Expanding their imaginagion. With children saving the world against evil. Personally I think this book was very 60's what seemed so scary in the book actually was more humerous and intertaining. The bad guy is a giant brain that controls the planets and is fought
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only by the great minds that can resist it.
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LibraryThing member rmcdow
This is a great book, and I have read it several times just for the pleasure of revisiting the story.
LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
I remember appreciating this book much more as a tween who felt she was much more intelligent than most of her peers. I read it again as an adult, to my infant son, and I wasn't as in love with it as I had remembered.

It was worth picking up, if for no other reason than the original story.
LibraryThing member ecataldi
This was one of those classics that I never got around to reading as a child. Which is honestly quite a bummer, because as an adult, I couldn't relate to a lot of it. I found myself irrationally yelling at Meg for whining to much, whereas had I been nine I would have completely understood what Meg
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was going through. While this children's fantasy was good, I don't think I'll be checking out the rest of the quintet. The premise is that stubborn Meg and her younger brother Charles Wallace find themselves cavorting with a passel of witches, their schoolmate and newly found friend, Calvin, also comes along for the ride. Meg and Charles Wallace's father has been missing for several year and Mrs. Who, Mrs. Witch, and Mrs. Whatsit (the three witches) take the three children on a ride throughout the galaxy to find their father and help battle evil. It's full of fun and fancy (and hidden religious meanings) that young children will love. While I'm not inspired to read more of the series. I am inspired to check out the movie.
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