Madeleine's Reviews > A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
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I have one general, self-imposed rule about reviewing on this site: I write about the books I've read in the order I've finished them. By that logic, I should be cobbling together my reaction to Hunger right now but I am so taken by this childhood staple that there's no room in my brain for anything other than uncontrollable glee over this book that another Madeleine has given to the world.

I never read this book as a kid. I didn't read it as a teenager or a college student. I read it for the first time with 30 coming at me like a crazed stalker who won't let a pesky thing like a restraining order stand in the way. And that did concern me, especially after half-heartedly slogging through the first four books comprising the Narnia Chronicles a few years ago before taking an indefinite break from tackling what should have been another enthusiastically remembered staple of a young reader's diet. I was afraid that I'd completely missed out on enjoying A Wrinkle in Time, a novel that I have heard praised up and down by so many people as the prime example of how good children's literature can be.

So I read it like I read as a wee lass who didn't realize that she was poised at the very beginning of what would become a lifelong pursuit of books fueled by an insatiable need to keep reading. I read well past my bedtime with one tiny light illuminating the path to somewhere magically transportive, knowing full well that the bookworm gratification far outweighed the inevitability of being a zombie all morning. I read it when I should have been doing something else as dictated by responsibility. I read to be told a story and to consider ideas I'd never come across in the world beyond two covers, sure, but mostly I read to give myself up to a writer's lush landscape, to lose myself in someone else's words. I read it to let my imagination run free through a universe I fervently and fruitlessly wished to be a part of.

And my adult self was just as enchanted as my inner child was. Sure, A Wrinkle in Time has its faults but I honestly couldn't tell you what they are because I was so thoroughly entertained, so taken with these characters I couldn't believe I could relate to in a way that was far less remote and removed than I expected (which is to say, at all) that all the things my nitpicky, pretentious post-English-major self would usually hone in on paled in comparison to the sheer enjoyment of the rush of letting a book completely suck me into its world to the point where the real world could have collapsed around me and I wouldn't've either cared or noticed because I was so wrapped up in this story.

On one hand, yeah, I do feel a little cheated that so much of what I needed to hear as a kid has lived within these pages all this time and I could have had such imperatives by my side to ease the pains of childhood's harsh but necessary learning experiences had I just shown even a fraction of some interest in this book. Among them: One's parents are not infallible. Weaknesses can become strengths -- nay, tools integral to besting some truly harrowing obstacles -- in the right circumstances. That sometimes you have to face down scary or unpleasant truths, and you're not excused from looking away or backing down just because the task ahead is either scary or unpleasant. It's better to embrace your individuality and not compromise yourself, no matter how uncomfortable you are in your own skin, than to mindlessly submit to the herd mentality and easy conformity. Just because something appears strange doesn't make it bad -- or all that strange at its core, after all. What things are is infinitely more important than what they look like.

But conversely? This book drenched my ordinary existence with fantasy's magic for a few days, and I'm sure it'll stick with me in the days to come. My first encounter with this book wasn't a foggily but fondly recalled childhood memory that's destined to be tarnished by the darkening cynicism of the years upon revisits from my older self. I got to experience the breathless wonder of a kid discovering an instant favorite for that very first time as an oasis of sheer escapist rapture in the face of a few intense work days and the humdrum nature of routine adulthood. And it proved to me that I don't always have to be such a goddamn snob about kid lit because when it's good, it is extraordinary. (And, really, let's be honest: Younger Me wasn't exactly the sharpest crayon in the tool shed, so who's to say I would have picked up on the more subtle elements that made this such a delightful read, anyway?)

Despite my natural inclination toward hyperbole, I am not exaggerating when I say I'm a little better for having read this book, one that I initially arrived at out of dubious curiosity and left in a state of giddy, childlike awe. And maybe a few tears.
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Reading Progress

May 14, 2012 – Shelved
May 19, 2013 – Started Reading
May 19, 2013 –
page 72
37.89% "So this is making my inner child hug herself with barely contained, long-delayed glee."
May 21, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 51 (51 new)


Brian Yay! So it held up that well on the re-read? I really want to come back to these...


Madeleine Brian wrote: "Yay! So it held up that well on the re-read? I really want to come back to these..."

Oh, YAY indeed! I can't wait to piece together a real review because I just want to rave about what this book did to me.

I have actually never read this before. The only L'Engle I have read was required reading way back in middle school and I ate that up, too, which is why I'm surprised it took me so long to pick up this one. I can't tell if it's better or not that my first encounter with A Wrinkle in Time has been as a slightly embittered adult; I do know, however, that it lent some of its magic to my otherwise routine life, and I am so grateful to it for that.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I remember thinking this book sounded lame as a kid. Probably because it didn't have people getting their heads chopped off or something really literary like that. I was such a cool kid.


Madeleine Anthony wrote: "I remember thinking this book sounded lame as a kid. Probably because it didn't have people getting their heads chopped off or something really literary like that. I was such a cool kid."

Pshaw, you're still a cool kid.

I had absolutely no opinion about this book as a kid. I knew a lot of people loved it, that characters in books I did read would claim this as their favorite but I never sought it out for myself or even bothered to find out what it was about. I think I knew I'd judge it less harshly as an adult reading a kid's book. Low expectations make everything better.


Jason I love this book. I really do. I read it twice (once as a kid; once as an adult) and I think it holds up.


message 6: by Aubrey (last edited May 21, 2013 08:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Aubrey It's wonderful that this book withstood the test of time for you, Madeleine. It didn't completely survive for me, but it still deserves all the love it can get.


message 7: by ariel (new)

ariel the second book in the series, in my opinion, does not hold up at all. but i found that the third and the fourth did even better than this one.


Madeleine Jason wrote: "I love this book. I really do. I read it twice (once as a kid; once as an adult) and I think it holds up."

I can totally see why you love this. And I'm so glad your adulthood reread was a successful one. Will you be reading this to your little ones at some point?


Madeleine Aubrey wrote: "It's wonderful that this book withstood the test of time for you, Madeleine. It didn't completely survive for me, but it still deserves all the love it can get."

It's such a shame when childhood favorites aren't what you remembered them as when you're older. I certainly know that pain well. You never know what's best left to the past until you take that risk of seeing it through an older perspective.

I think having not read this as a kid was, ultimately, a blessing. And, really, I wasn't expecting much from something meant for a younger audience but I think this book and I crossed paths at a perfectly, auspiciously open-minded time.


Madeleine Ariel wrote: "the second book in the series, in my opinion, does not hold up at all. but i found that the third and the fourth did even better than this one."

Good to know! I was on the fence about forging ahead with the series (I bought the fourth book on a whim when I found a used copy at a library sale) but I think I'll be taking the plunge at some point. I think it really does help that there's no built-up past experience these books have to measure up to for me.


message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul I think something of the child remains in all of us, however much life tries to batter it out of us


Madeleine Paul wrote: "I think something of the child remains in all of us, however much life tries to batter it out of us"

I agree! This book was a promise to my residual child that, regardless of how icky the grown-up world can be, there really are plenty of things to stick around for.


David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party Love, love, love this review! Amazing work, Madeleine :D


Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton Beautifully written review. Thanks for sharing.


Brian This review is a thing of beauty.


message 16: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark I'm a little better off for having read this review. It's funny, even though you missed this one as a kid, your review still exudes a magnificent sense of nostalgia. Takes me back! Great job!


message 17: by Nefariousbig (new)

Nefariousbig with 30 coming at me like a crazed stalker who won't let a pesky thing like a restraining order stand in the way

Darling, NEVER lose your childlike-awe, and you will NEVER face Time's crazy stalker face.

Also, to a crazed stalker, restraining order just means "if you're gonna take the crazy train to the electric chair, you might as well make it worth the price of the ticket."


message 18: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Madeleine, how lovely that you are still well connected enough with your inner child that you were able to enjoy this on the proper level. I’m afraid I was unaware of A Wrinkle until well into adulthood, and I apparently waited much too long. I tried to read this 5 or 6 years ago, couldn’t even finish it and won’t try again. I liked your descriptions of glee and enchantment in your review though, and the summation of possible learning experiences for children contained within this book. And it did make me want to read Mary Poppins again. I’ll bet you would LOVE Mary Poppins. (The movie is a travesty.)


message 19: by Becky (new) - added it

Becky Also, you can't beat that cover art.

I think it was the second book that mentioned the baby unicorn drinking moonlight,and it spilling out of its mouth. Thats been my happy place for over twenty years now.


Aubrey So I read it like I read as a wee lass who didn't realize that she was poised at the very beginning of what would become a lifelong pursuit of books fueled by an insatiable need to keep reading. I read well past my bedtime with one tiny light illuminating the path to somewhere magically transportive, knowing full well that the bookworm gratification far outweighed the inevitability of being a zombie all morning. I read it when I should have been doing something else as dictated by responsibility. I read to be told a story and to consider ideas I'd never come across in the world beyond two covers, sure, but mostly I read to give myself up to a writer's lush landscape, to lose myself in someone else's words. I read it to let my imagination run free through a universe I fervently and fruitlessly wished to be a part of.

An especially beautiful part of a wonderful review. Bravo.


message 21: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich A few tears from me too! Because this review is beautiful!


message 22: by Steve (new)

Steve You Madeleines are an impressive lot, to be sure. I'd argue that you are now one of the sharper crayons in the shed, though might ask what it is you're doing out there cavorting with rakes and hoes.


Madeleine David: Why thank you, good sir! :)

Daniel: Thank YOU both for reading this and for your kind words.

Brian: That means quite a bit coming from someone whose wordslinging prowess was immediately apparent from the very first review of yours I read. Thank you so much.

Mark: Aw, thank you millions for.... just being you. :) I'm really glad to hear that my efforts to tap into Younger Me's lingering sense of wonder seems to have been successful.

Frances: Have I mentioned how much I adore your way of thinking? I'm doing my very damnedest to hold onto the best parts of childhood's mentality like my younger self clung to her security blanket. For the most part, I can honestly say that I have benefited mightily from keeping that perspective close. (Lingering immaturity also makes everything hilarious, which is the best bonus ever.)

Suzanne: Yeah, I'm really just a kid at heart. :) I think I know how you feel, though: Your too-late experience with this sounds painfully like my try at the Narnia Chronicles (I was so sad that I just couldn't get into the groove of those book!). And YAY for the impulse to revisit a childhood favorite of yours! I do think I will give ol' Mary a shot -- thanks for the rec!

Becky: The truth, you speak it. And if I was still on the fence about tackling the rest of this series, that image would have been what pushed me into hell-yes territory. Now I'm even more excited to see what kind of magic lives in the second book. Thank you for that. :)

Aubrey: As you've said before, it is an honor to be deemed quote-worthy. I'm so thrilled I could write something that sounded good to someone who churns out beautiful phrases by the review-load with a seeming effortlessness like yourself. Thank you so, so much.

Spenk: Aw, thank you so very much. Your compliments and comments are always such treats. :)


Madeleine Steve wrote: "You Madeleines are an impressive lot, to be sure. I'd argue that you are now one of the sharper crayons in the shed...."

Thank you so much for this, Steve! I have to say, the elder Maddie sure set the bar at dizzying heights but it is quite fun trying to clear it.

Just like I get serious kicks from trying to sound smarter than I really am. ;)

.... though might ask what it is you're doing out there cavorting with rakes and hoes.

Seriously, this cracked me up. Synonyms are the best tools to have in one's arsenal when it comes to wordplay.


Mariel I know exactly the feeling about this book. Wonderful review. (I resisted it in youth because kids I didn't like loved it. Curse me for a fool!)


Madeleine Mariel wrote: "I know exactly the feeling about this book. Wonderful review. (I resisted it in youth because kids I didn't like loved it. Curse me for a fool!)"

Thank you!

I, too, know what it was like to be a victim of childish folly based on others' opinions. The upshot of reading this years after leaving its intended age demographic was that I got to be an adult reader going absolutely batty for a children's book and giving my poor, cooped-up inner child a chance to come out play for a while.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Mariel wrote: "I know exactly the feeling about this book. Wonderful review. (I resisted it in youth because kids I didn't like loved it. Curse me for a fool!)"

This is one of my biggest character flaw: I assume when a lot of people rave about something, then I am probably going to be disappointed by it.


message 28: by Madeleine (last edited May 31, 2013 11:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Madeleine Anthony wrote: "This is one of my biggest character flaw: I assume when a lot of people rave about something, then I am probably going to be disappointed by it."

I don't think you're necessarily in the wrong on that assumption, though. Things like "The No. 1 Bestseller!" hugely emblazoned on the cover of a book often mean "Dude, seriously, this book is utter shit."

The trick is to find the smaller group of people whose tastes have proven to be trustworthy. When it comes to books I haven't read yet, I check my GR friends' cumulative rating and ignore the site's overall one. The easy example would be Twilight: This site's poor, misguided sheeple have somehow given it a 3.58 on average but my 36 friends who have rated it have it rated at a much more realistic 2.43 (and quite a few of them have given it an ironic five stars, and GR's math sadly doesn't know how to adjust itself accordingly to factor in sarcastic stars).


message 29: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Anthony, Madeleine is absolutely right. The key is to find trusted guides among people of similar taste (that is, good taste) and ignore the masses. As my mother used to say, "Never underestimate the stupidity of the general public."


message 30: by Becky (new) - added it

Becky I loooove my Goodreads friends, I know I can always trust you guys!


Madeleine Suzanne wrote: "Madeleine is absolutely right."

That is my favorite sentence in the English language. Ooooh, the lurid shivers it sends up my spine. :D


Madeleine Becky wrote: "I loooove my Goodreads friends, I know I can always trust you guys!"

There is not a part of this sentence that I don't agree with. The council of wise ones this site has sent to me is just delightful.


France-Andrée Thank you for that great review! I have to say this book was accumulating virtual dust on my ebooks shelve, but now the priority of it has gone up drastically.


Madeleine France-Andrée wrote: "Thank you for that great review! I have to say this book was accumulating virtual dust on my ebooks shelve, but now the priority of it has gone up drastically."

Thank YOU, kind stranger! I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did, whenever you get around to reading it.


message 35: by Viju (new)

Viju This review that you have written truly captured in words what I feel each time I pick a book, any book and sail into its world. I am a passionate book reader, bordering on the obsessive at times and yet I have never been able to articulate that feeling until I stumbled onto your review. It captures the passion and describes it so well I even had to share with my friend who has a similar passion for books. I am grateful to you for such beautiful words, thank you. This here is my most favourite part 'a lifelong pursuit of books fueled by an insatiable need to keep reading. I read well past my bedtime with one tiny light illuminating the path to somewhere magically transportive, knowing full well that the bookworm gratification far outweighed the inevitability of being a zombie all morning. I read it when I should have been doing something else as dictated by responsibility. I read to be told a story and to consider ideas I'd never come across in the world beyond two covers, sure, but mostly I read to give myself up to a writer's lush landscape, to lose myself in someone else's words. I read it to let my imagination run free through a universe I fervently and fruitlessly wished to be a part of.
....the sheer enjoyment of the rush of letting a book completely suck me into its world to the point where the real world could have collapsed around me and I wouldn't've either cared or noticed because I was so wrapped up in this story.'
Thank You


Madeleine Viju wrote: "This review that you have written truly captured in words what I feel each time I pick a book, any book and sail into its world. I am a passionate book reader, bordering on the obsessive at times ..."

Well, thank YOU, kind stranger! I'm always thrilled when someone else understands the incredible rush of falling into the written word's magical, transportive powers. I hope you keep finding book after book that renews your love of reading!


Jason Why do you get nice strangers and I get jerkoff strangers who tell me how much I suck?


Madeleine Jason wrote: "Why do you get nice strangers and I get jerkoff strangers who tell me how much I suck?"

Oh, I've totally had run-ins with dickish strangers here but I usually either ignore them or delete their diatribes. Like that Einstein quote says, "Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." So I only feed the trolls on others' behalf.

Also, only strangers think you suck. Those of us who don't rush to snap judgements over one review that, like, totally shatters our fragile opinions know you fucking rock.


Jason Yeah. I'm in good hands with you Goodreads fuckers. :)

By the way did you know I'll be back in Philly Monday night?


Madeleine Jason wrote: "By the way did you know I'll be back in Philly Monday night?"

I DID NOT KNOW THIS. Do you and Kris already have meet-up plans in place?


Jason Ha! I actually haven't PMd her about it yet. I am only getting plans worked out now (my company is very last-minute) but it's all pretty much done. I'll definitely be there Mon. night. If you want to meet up let me know and I'll send out an e-mail among the three of us.


Jason But you can't blow me off this time. :P


Madeleine Jason wrote: "But you can't blow me off this time. :P"

Heh. It looks like things'll be quiet on the workish front Monday, so I will not have that to contend with. May I humbly request a close-to-a-PATCO-station meet-up place?

I totally understand and empathize with the last-minute stuff.


Jason I'll be renting a car, so logistics aren't a problem. I'll send an e-mail now.


Jason Done.


Madeleine Jason wrote: "Done."

Responded!


message 47: by Anaya (new) - added it

Anaya i love this book.i read it as child now my daughter reads it out to me.....it brings back memories


Kevin Yu This is a great book!


message 49: by Taiwo (new) - added it

Taiwo | A Lifestyle Nerd Your review is amazing in itself. With that kind of prrose, you can write a really good novel later. I totally agree with Viju


message 50: by j. (new) - added it

j.  Here I am, 25 years old. Let's see!


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