A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)

A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1) - Madeleine L'Engle 3.5 starsFor many years, I've remembered reading a story about a girl with a young brother who traveled to another world to confront an IT. The story made a deep impression on me, because I was 8 or 9 when I read it, and it seemed so fascinating, so horrible, and so unlike the usual stories that I was able to check out from the school library at the time. But I could never remember the title of the book or enough about it to locate the book again.While I'm not a fan of ads on sites, I must thank the 50th anniversary edition ad for this book here on Goodreads for helping me to find this book again!It's a beautiful story about a girl who feels very out of place - in her family and at school. Her father, a scientist, has been missing for several years, and the entire town thinks that he's run away with another woman. So her family is pitied and gossiped about endlessly. Margaret (Meg) is also at that awkward growth stage, where she's lanky, clumsy, wearing braces, and trying to deal with the emotions and thoughts of a young girl changing into a woman. Meg has a special bond with her youngest brother, Charles Wallace. Charles is 5 years old and very unusual; he didn't speak until he was 4, which started the rumors that he's a moron. But when Charles did begin to speak, he spoke not only in complete sentences, but with a marked intelligence and a vocabulary and understanding often not found in 24 year olds! Charles has a way of knowing what Meg thinks and what she needs. It's implied that Charles has ESP, and that he can apply it to figure out what others are thinking. He certainly knows Meg and his mother.On a windy, stormy night after a particularly bad day at school, Meg wanders into the kitchen and finds Charles Wallace making cocoa and sandwiches. Their mother joins them, and the children realize just how much she's missing their father... and the toll all of this is taking on her. A Mrs. Whatsit, a friend of Charles' who he says lies in the old abandoned "haunted" house with 2 friends, knocks on their door. She's dressed so strangely and talks so strangely with Charles, that Meg is certain this is the sheet thief, coming to steal from her house or even, perhaps, to harm her family. But when Mrs. Whatsit, who also seems to be able to read minds, mentions, "there is such a thing as a tesseract", Meg's mother instantly reacts to the word "tesseract". Meg can't get any more information from her mother, only a sense that that word has to do with the experiments that her mother and father were doing when he went away on some "top secret" mission.The next day, Charles takes Meg to the haunted house, where they meet another of Mrs. Whatsit's friends, Mrs. Who, and a neighbor boy, Calvin. Calvin is a few years older than Meg, and they've never properly met, but somehow an instant bond is formed between them. Calvin immediately feels protective of Meg and Charles, and it's obvious that he's got a keen interest in Meg. He, too, seems to have some sort of "gift", and Charles and Calvin recognize like-souls. Calvin asks Charles if she's "one of us", and he responds, "Meg has it tough. She's not really one thing or the other." This mysterious statement is never fully resolved in this book... I wonder if it is in any of the sequels?Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who then take Meg, Charles, and Calvin on a mysterious journey to save Mr. Murray (Meg's and Charles' father) from some strange darkness that seems to be trying to cover the Earth and has already covered several planets in the universe. They know that the darkness is Evil. They learn that a tesseract is a way of traveling through space and time - sort of folding time and space to lessen the distance between points (like a fold of cloth). The children also meet Mrs. Whatsit's other friend, Mrs. Which, who never quite takes on a true corporeal form. The three "weird sisters" tell the children that they must rescue Mr. Murray from the Darkness... and they must go alone. But each is given specific gifts from the weird trio before they venture off to the unknown.What the children discover is that, while this new place (Camazotz) might look a bit like Earth, there is definitely something OFF about the place and its people. All the houses look the same. The people might look different, but they all act the same way - walk at the same rhythm, bounce balls at the same rhythm... it's as if they all share one mind. Meg, Charles, and Calvin discover that they must go to CENTRAL Central Intelligence to find what they're looking for. They find more than what they bargained for - walls that inhabitants can make disappear by manipulating the atoms of the wall, a strange man with red eyes who talks of IT, and then finally, IT. With his vast intelligence, Charles Wallace thinks that he can find father by allowing himself to glimpse IT, mentally. But IT takes over Charles Wallace, and he becomes a strange, cruel creature. Meg and Calvin try to free Charles from IT and almost succeed in breaking the bond, but IT intervenes. Meg does find Father, and she's able to rescue him with the help of one of the gifts. But IT is trying to take over Meg's and Calvin's minds, and Father uses a tesseract to take Meg and Calvin away from Camzotz. But they must leave Charles Wallace behind; he's too ingrained with IT.Will Meg and Calvin and Father be able to break away Charles Wallace from IT? Will they be able to return home?----------------As a child, the spiritual references (especially scripture) obviously went over my head. While I was raised in a church-going home and memorized scripture, at this point in my life, I was more interested in the occult - a fascination I outgrew and left behind in favor of my faith. I remember the thrill of this book to me - it felt more like a story of magic than faith. But reading it now as an adult, I realize that the story is showing how faith can appear as a sort of "magic" - that the power of faith and the belief in Good (or Light or God) can overcome the Evil/Darkness that tries to conform us to itself - stripping away our individuality and our free will, making us it's servant and robot.The strange thing, to me, was the Medium with her crystal ball. While I could accept many of the other strange creatures and worlds, the Medium goes against scripture. The Bible is clear about mediums, and so this oddity who is obviously meant to be a friend and a help in this adventure puzzled me. I was no longer sure about the author's intention - perhaps she didn't mean the story to be an allegory for Christianity as much as faith? Still not sure....But it's a delightful book, IMO. I wouldn't recommend it for under 10 or for tender hearts or those easily frightened.