A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a classic children’s book that I somehow missed as a child. I saw other kids reading it. I actually owned a copy of the book at one point, in fact, I owned all the books surrounding this particular book, but did I read them? Nope. I don’t know why.
This book really jumps right into the story. We meet Meg. She lives in the attic bedroom of her family’s home. She is worried about the hurricane that is bearing down on her home town. Things aren’t right and it isn’t just the hurricane that has thrown things out of whack. Meg does not fit in. Everyone thinks she is stupid, but she’s really not.
Meg has three younger brothers, sucks doesn’t it, Meg? Her brothers include a ten-year old set of twins, Dennys and Sandy. She has a five-year old brother named Charles Wallace. Charles is dumb by no means. He’s intuitive in an almost creepy manner. Their mother is beautiful and a scientist, brains and beauty, if only we could have it all. They have a father, but he’s not there. In fact, he’s been gone a while. A large part of what is upsetting the lives of the Murray family is that their father is gone. The town whispers that he has run off with another woman and abandoned his family, but the family knows better. They know he was working on classified projects for the government.
Not long into the story Charles Wallace informs Meg about some interesting people living in the supposedly haunted house nearby. He says one of them is named Mrs. Whatsit and she pays a visit to the Murrays one evening. Mrs. Whatsit introduces herself to Mrs. Murray and Charles Wallace rebukes her for stealing sheets from Mrs. Buncombe. Mrs. Whatsit tells Mrs. Murray something that disturbs her. She says that tessaract is real.
Soon Meg and Charles Wallace go for a walk in the woods. There they meet a boy named Calvin O’Keefe, no relation to Georgia, I assume. Calvin, Meg, and Charles Wallace go and pay a visit to Mrs. Whatsit and her two friends. Those friends are Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. They know things about the Murray family that no one else knows. They know the father is missing. They tell the children they have to find him. His efforts for tessaring were successful and Mr. Murray is somewhere and he needs help.
The three weird women briefly explain what it is to wrinkle in time. It’s basically tessaring. They go to another planet where Mrs. Whatsit turns herself into a Pegasus type creature. They see what they are battling. It’s a large dark thing that is engulfing entire planets. That is what they must fight. The children can see this dark thing is trying to get their own planet. The children are sent to a strange planet called Comazotz and told to go into town, but with warnings. Charles Wallace should not go off by herself. They should stick together. Meg is given her faults and Calvin’s communication abilities are increased.
The town they enter is strange. Everything is timed to a “T.” Children even bounce balls at the same speed and withe the same force. People open their doors at the same time. The children go to Central Central where they mange to get inside. They are almost immediately detained. There they meet a man, or something like one, who explains to them the world of Comazotz. The burden of choice has been taken away from everyone there.They don’t have to think about anything. IT thinks for them. What IT is, is something you’ll find out later in the story.
Charles Wallace goes off on his own, mentally, not physically and is deprived of all the things that are Charles Wallace. Meg is heartbroken and blames everyone. Meg and Calvin do find their father. He has been a prisoner and they narrowly manage to escape when Meg’s father tessars them away, but leaves behind a member of the party. Meg is almost grabbed by the dark thing, but is nourished back to health by some strange creatures that cannot see. She then goes, on her own, to save the left behind member of their party.
What I liked
I really liked the message in this book. Meg and her friends go to a planet where people are in comas. The name means exactly what it sounds like, Comazotz/comatose, same thing. The message in this book is something that I find really important. Meg can make her own choices. Making choices can be a burden, it’s true, but with the freedom to choose, you are in charge. Your life can be the fullest. If you let other people make your choices, you’re a robot. You are not human. Being human means that you choose for yourself. You do not let anyone else choose for you. You can make a bad choice or you can make a good choice or any numerous option in between. You do have to live with the consequences of that choice, that’s part of being human as well.
Sure, if someone else made all your choices for you, you would never have to deal with bad consequences, permitting that the person making your choices knew a thing or two about life or had your best interest at heart. Here’s the thing, to know joy, you have to know sorrow. To know a good choice, you have to know a bad choice. You have to make mistakes. You have to get bruised. It hurts being wrong. It hurts being bruised. It hurts to feel ashamed, but it’s also the most amazingly brilliant feeling to have made the right choice, for you, not the right choice for someone else or the right choice for society.
This planet, Comazotz, has taken all choice away from its inhabitants. Life is strictly timed. They eliminate sickness and disease, by simply putting a person to sleep, like a dog. Everyone fits in. No one is different. Everyone does everything in the proper manner. Sure, that’s nice and all, but where’s the fun in that?
I don’t remember if Madeleine was a religious woman or not, but what her story plays out reminds me very much of the story of the war in heaven. I’ve mentioned this as a belief of various Christian sects before. The crux of the matter was that God wanted people to be able to choose good for themselves. He asked one of his sons to go to Earth. Lucifer said he would go, but that he would make people choose good and that not one soul would be lost. Christ said he would go, but carry out God’s plan to let people choose for themselves. God’s choice of Christ over Lucifer started the war in heaven, well, Lucifer started the war in heaven. The war was all over the ability to make a decision for yourself.
Even if you’re not a religious person, your ability to choose should be at the core of your being. I live in the United States, which was a country founded on the very idea of making your own darn choices. I value the ability to make as many choices as I possibly can. I want to choose between paper or plastic. I don’t want you to take away my choice or make it for me. I consider the fact that I have a functioning brain qualifying enough that I can make my own choices. I don’t need a government, or whatever, thinking I’m something kind of drooling baby that cannot choose for myself.
I use government as an example, but there are many examples. We give away a lot of our choosing power in our lives to the government, to agencies, to doctors, to fair-weather friends, to over-bearing parents, to stupid ideals, to religions, to self-help books, and even to Oprah. You really don’t realize how many choices you give away in your life until you sit down to think about it. Some of these choice transfers are ok. We know, that if we are under-age, our parents probably can make better choices than we can. Some of these choice transfers are not ok. I know that I think some of the FDA’s food rulings are idiotic. I never voted them into existence and I don’t appreciate them trying to tell farmers they can’t raise heirloom pigs or sell raw milk. If you want raw milk, buy it; if you do not want raw milk, do not buy it. It’s simple. We don’t need the FDA taking that choice away from us.
Getting back to the book, the people of Comazotz willingly gave up their ability to choose so they would not be different and not have to be burdened by the idea of making a choice that would end in a bad result. Do we do that? You bet we do that. We do that all the freaking time. Every time you think to yourself, “Well, if it’s on the news it must be true,” or, “If the FDA says it’s ok, then it must be fine to put into my body,” or, “My sister says this dress doesn’t make me look fat, so I’m not even going to look in the mirror,” you’re giving away your choice.
I think you get my point, hopefully. My point is, that I really liked what Madeleine was pointing out in her book, even though I did go on a nice, long rant.
What I didn’t like
I felt like parts of the book were missing. I am aware that this book is part of a series. I don’t feel like pieces are missing in that manner. I feel as if events are rushed over. Before I knew it, Meg was on a completely different planet without a lot of ceremony, granted… this book was written for children with much shorter attention spans. I do think an adult version of this book, not erotic, but more mature, would actually be really, really good. I do wish that Madeleine would have explained things more. I wish there had been a bit more background to all of the happenings.
If I had kids, I would read this book to them.