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A Straight Line Is Not The Shortest Distance Between Two Points

Forever Young Adult Presents: A book review of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Straight Line Is Not The Shortest Distance Between Two Points

BOOK REPORT for A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Cover Story: Groovy
BFF Charm: Make It Rain!
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Fantastical
Bonus Factors: Faults, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Faith
Relationship Status: LOVE. That Is What We Have That IT Does Not.

Cover Story: Groovy

Look at this 50th Anniversary Edition cover! It's GEORGEOUS! It's also a nice throwback to the year this book was written. I swear, this cover's so pretty, if it was a poster I'd frame it.

The Deal:

Confession time: I never read this book as a kid. It wasn't an intentional slight, it just got overlooked. Here is my review, as an adult reading it for the first time, as part of our participation in the book's 50th anniversary.

Meg Murry has it rough in school. She's not like everybody else, but worse, her father disappeared while working on a top secret project for the government, and the whole town whispers that he left Meg's mother for another woman. Meg KNOWS this isn't true, but it's not until she meets three strange ladies that she finds out that her father is in trouble.

Soon Meg -- along with her baby brother Charles Wallace and new friend Calvin O'Keefe -- are sent on a dangerous mission of their own through time and space to rescue her father from the Dark Thing that is looming over Earth.

BFF Charm: Make it Rain!

Oh, Meg. Megaparsec. My own Meg Murry. What a best friend you would have been to a young me! Fiercely loyal, imaginative, and not a little bit grumpy. In other words, you would have joined Anne Shirley in becoming one of the only two girls in the world (even though you're actually fictional) who would have totally GOTTEN me. Calvin is just adorable. Things just are the way they are with him, and I was instantly charmed by his affability and sense of humor. And Charles Wallace. CHARLES WALLACE!!!! How many boys out there are named Charles Wallace [insert last name] because of this book? God, I just wanted to hug him so hard. And the three of them together made just the best group. I'd tesser with them anytime. OR I'd stay behind and hang out with Fortinbras. Because, Fortinbras!

Then there's Mrs. Whatsit, Who and Which, not to mention Aunt Beast. In an age where so many adult figures in YA are incredibly flawed and selfish, how nice to have some who are eccentric and silly and helpful and nurturing.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

While there's lots of hand-holding and even a tiny bit of kissage, Calvin and Meg felt very young to me. Perhaps the swoon will increase in the future installments. However, I couldn't help but give this book a couple of points for Mr. and Mrs. Murry, who were still so in love, even though you only get a glimpse of them together.

Talky Talk: Fantastical

So I was a little apprehensive about reading this beloved story for the first time as an adult. What if it was one of those books that you had to read as a kid to fall in love with it?

I needn't have worried. L'Engle's prose folded me in like I was fabric in Mrs. Whatsit's skirt, and I immediately loved both her characters and the worlds she created. It did feel like a book written FOR children in the sense that it was filled with the magic and wonderment of a child, so my advice to would-be first time adult readers is to leave your cynicism at the door and embrace it with both arms.

Bonus Factor: Faults

WHEN has there EVER been a book written about a girl, in which said girl is encouraged by someone in authority that her faults would be her strength? Here! That's where! Although of course, but change one word and a fault becomes a virtue. Perhaps Meg's stubbornness was, after all, always tenacity? And likewise, perhaps my thirst for champ cans is after all, a thirst for... yeah, I guess that one doesn't work...

Bonus Factor: R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

The author doesn't dumb down this book. There's science in it! Like, complex science! With atoms! And mature moral lessons like the fact that alike and equal are not the same thing! There's also all kinds of made up fantasy stuff, but it's all written in a way that didn't make me feel like I was reading a KID'S BOOK.

Bonus Factor: Faith

Maybe it's the fact that this was published in 1962, but there's a lot of God and Bible stuff in the story. Usually that puts me right off -- there's nothing I hate more than sneaky prosthelytization. But it's in here in such a way that's so pure and not phony or preachy or even terribly religion excluding (there's a mention of Buddah!) that I found myself touched, because when facing adversity, George Michael was right. You gotta have it.

Casting Call:

There's already been movie adaptations of this book, and another one is in the works, so I decided to just put up my dream cast:

Hailee Steinfeld as Meg Murry

Hailee's the only young actress who comes to mind who could do justice to Meg's fierceness.

Jesse Plemons as Calvin O'Keefe

I totally pictured Calvin as Landry the WHOLE time.

Asa Butterfield as Charles Wallace Murry

I mean, he's technically too old, but... CHARLES WALLACE!!!!

Relationship Status: LOVE. That Is What We Have That IT Does Not.

Much like Meg, it took me some time to figure it out. But by the end I was crying right along with her, "I love you! I love you! I LOVE you!"

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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