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The inspiration for reading these books came from Netflix. I was browsing one time trying to figure out what I wanted to watch when I saw the new A Wrinkle in Time movie pop up. Just seeing the movie cover brought massive waves of nostalgia, both for the old movie and reading the book while in elementary school.
I remembered how these books spoke to me about real issues and didn’t belittle me for being a kid. I rarely buy books because of how quickly I go through them. However, A Wrinkle in Time is an age-old classic and has a place on my bookshelf! So after Netflix reminded me of this fantastic book, I pulled it off my shelf and started reading. Oh, and of course, I had to pick up the next couple of books and re-read the entire series. I couldn’t stop with just one.
Just as a heads up, this series is weird! You may think the first one was weird, but they get more abstract along the way. Also, there isn’t a cohesive bad guy or timeline in A Wrinkle in Time series, unlike the Harry Potter series or pretty much any other book series. These books take place years apart, and there are different main characters from the same family. It is fascinating to see each of their strengths shine, but I would like the books to connect a bit more than just vague references to the previous books. You could easily read any of them separately as independent novels and not be missing anything. Feel free to skip around in the series.
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Why L’Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time Series
My edition had a special introduction by the author Madeleine L’Engle about her writing process. Turns out she would write a chapter or portion during the day and then read it to her own kids as their bedtime story. They would beg her to keep writing. They wanted to find out what happened to their favorite characters. She purposefully wrote about mature subjects (like death) and adult themes because kids understand hard things. She wanted to help her children process their thoughts and make sense of the world they live in.
I think this concept of using books to help you process the world and especially the connection of a parent being there to show the real-life application is valuable. It is part of why I do what I do so parents can use this knowledge to have meaningful conversations.
One idea that Madeleine L’Engle conveys throughout her books is this idea of science and God working together. She never explicitly mentions God or a specific religious denomination, but she hints at it a lot. L’Engle also has this theme of not feeling like you enough but what you are is enough when we ask for help. I also like how the characters have adult figures to council with about what to do, but it’s up to the characters to make things happen. I love how these themes and lessons are relevant to all ages and stages, from kindergarten to senior citizens. Everyone needs to be reminded that they are enough and that it’s okay to ask for help.
Book 1: A Wrinkle in Time
On a dark and stormy night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house. She asks Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and their new friend Calvin O’Keefe to go on a dangerous mission to save the universe. They accept and sweep off through the stars on an adventure that will threaten their lives.
Violence: PG – There is no actual fighting but plenty of fighting against ideas and thoughts.
Language: G – None
Adult Content: PG – Short kiss and some hand-holding
The short answer to what I thought of the book is AMAZING! It is definitely different and yet similar to the movie. There is a whole other side of the story that you just can’t get from a film because there is no way to hear all of Meg’s inner dialogue. While I re-read the book, I pictured the characters from the original movie and the locations of the remake. It’s amazing how the brain can do that.
Is it terrible to say that I loved the antagonist in this story? Because I did. I love how creative it is and how Meg’s strength is math. She may be plain and feel like she isn’t enough, but she uses what makes her unique to conquer the evil. I also really like how feelings are talked about in this book. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel scared. It is okay to feel. We have to embrace the emotion and work through it to become better individuals.
Book 2: A Wind in the Door
Charles Wallace finds dragons in the vegetable patch and soon after gets deathly ill. The dragon is actually a cherubim named Proginoskes. Proginoskes is wings, eyes, wind, and flame. Proginoskes, Meg, and Calvin have to travel deep within Charles Wallace to battle the Echthroi, or those to hate, and restore balance to the universe.
Violence: PG – Charles Wallace is bullied, but we hear of his experience second-hand.
Language: G – None. They do come up with creative expletives.
Adult Content: G – None
I think Madeleine L’Engle did a great job building upon themes from the 1st book with different applications. Meg has to use her skill of loving to bring back harmony and save Charles Wallace. A Wind in the Door is definitely on the abstract side, especially with characters named Proginoskes and Blajeny. Because of the crazy names, it can be hard to understand what is happening in the story. I recommend getting an audiobook version so you can hear how they are pronounced. I really like how L’Engle blends ideas of religion and science to create the start of a story. It is definitely a unique technique that she has created. I’m also a fan of Meg facing one of her biggest fears and then allowing it to become an ally.
Book 3: A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace has to save the world again. He travels through time with a unicorn named Gaudior to stop a crazy dictator named Madog Branzillo. Meg is all grown up expecting her first child. Instead of physically going with, Meg goes with Charles Wallace in spirit by “kything” or entering his thoughts and emotions.
Violence: PG- Brothers fighting against each other almost to the death, witch trials,
Language: G- None
Adult Content: G:- Mention of kissing but nothing more
The idea is interesting, but I had a hard time with A Swiftly Tilting Planet. There were so many times that I almost put this book down or stop reading it for a week, so I could read other books that I was more invested in. They kept jumping around in time, and Charles Wallace relives portions. It is hard to figure out what Charles Wallace is influencing. There isn’t a clear climax or conflict in the story, but there is a well-defined ending. I got to the end and wondered what I read. If anything, it is an interesting concept of how the past influences the present and the future. I think there are better ways for this to be accomplished.
One thing I did like was the lesson Charles Wallace learns. He learns that you can take a different path than you planned and still have a good ending. I also like how we get a deeper insight into Mrs. O’Keefe, Calvin’s mother, and her story. It solves some of the questions from the first book about Calvin’s home life. I honestly don’t really recommend this book. If you are looking for just another book to read because you are out of ideas, go ahead. But if you are a slow reader and you want quality, you might consider skipping this one. It’s okay but not worth re-reading.
Book 4: Many Waters
Meg and Charles Wallace have been having adventures, and how it’s time for their brothers Sandy and Denny to explore. Usually, nothing happens to the twins. Until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment and are transported through time and space. They travel to a small oasis in the middle of a desert, where unicorns are real if you believe, and plenty of other things are real even if you don’t believe. When the twins figure out where and when they are, they can barely believe it. They are at the time of Noah and have to help him reunite with his father while building a boat in the middle of a desert.
Violence: PG- kidnapping for ransom
Language: G – None
Adult Content: PG-13- Lots of kisses but no making out or anything further. One side story plot is one girl is trying to seduce both twins. Another character mentions that they want a woman “experienced in the ways of lust” but doesn’t explain what that means. There is also a traumatic child-birthing scene.
Many Waters is pretty much an interpretive retelling of the Noah story from the Bible. I feel like this is a fantasy adaption of the traditional tale and very different from the rest of the series. As just a story, I thought it was pretty interesting. I liked that we got to know Sandy and Dennys for the first time instead of just in passing. This book is a coming-of-age story for the twins as they learn to be their own individuals, and they also fall in love for the first time. This story digs into tricky family relationships and allowing nature to happen even if it isn’t what we want. It is also full of L’Engle’s signature interesting names, so you may want to pick up the audiobook to help you out.
Side Tangent about this Series
The last book of The Wrinkle in Time series is actually the last book of another series. This other series is called the O’Keefe Family Series, and it is all about Calvin and Meg’s family. The O’Keefe Family series is The Arm of the Starfish, Dragons in the Waters, A House Like a Lotus, and ends with An Acceptable Time. I haven’t read the entire series but The Arm of the Starfish is one of my favorites. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Marine Biology. The O’Keefe series is firmly planted in reality. It is realistic fiction and not as abstract as this series. If you weren’t a fan of this series, check out that one!
Book 5: An Acceptable Time
When lightning flashes precisely as the earthquakes, Polly is transported back in time three thousand years. Opening her eyes, she finds herself surrounded by a group of spear-carrying young men. Now, Polly has to figure out why she traveled back in time and how to get to her time before the time gate closes. She doesn’t want to stay trapped in time with people who believe in human sacrifice.
In the effort of full disclosure, I have not read An Acceptable Time yet. Based on the many books I’ve read by Madeleine L’Engle, I 100% recommend this book. It is on my holds shelf right now, so I hope to update this post with a deeper look into this book.
So, in short, buy A Wrinkle in Time and love it. Borrow A Wind in the Door if you are invested in the characters and want to see more between Meg and Charles. Skip A Swiftly Tilting Planted unless you really like history and not a lot of plotline. Be entertained by Many Waters but don’t think of it as a historical text. Also, read the tie-in series called the O’Keefe Family series for more about Meg and Calvin’s family.
If you have read this wild ride of a series and want to find something else to read check out this post full of fantasy books. Other books you might enjoy include Vampirates, These Broken Stars, Ender’s Game, and Last Descendants: An Assassin’s Creed Novel.
What do you think of A Wrinkle in Time? What are your favorite parts? Drop a comment down below or send me a message.