Young Adult Literature Review #3

Title: A Wrinkle in Time

Author: Madeleine L’Engle IMG_0723

Reading Level: 5.8 grade level equivalent (according to Scholastic); despite it’s lower reading level, this book includes sophisticated vocabulary and sentence structure variety; though probably best as a middle school book, it could be valuable even for early high school learners who are working to develop their reading comprehension skills

Synopsis: A Wrinkle in Time begins L’Engle’s Time Quintet by introducing Meg Murry, Charles Wallace (her brother), and Calvin O’Keefe (their new-found friend).  From the second page, a mystery evolves; Meg’s father has been missing, and no one knows why.  While the adults in town whisper about him running off with another woman, Meg does not believe the rumors.  Rather than focusing only on one puzzle, the novel uncovers several more mysteries in quick succession; the sudden appearance of three unconventional women in an abandoned house down the road is only the first step in a succession of puzzles that the three children must untangle.  The adventurous tale draws the children through time and space to exotic corners of the universe, and the children’s success in their quest will affect much more than their own lives.

Context/Themes: L’Engle has crafted a book that blends the genres of science fiction, mystery, imaginative fiction, and coming-of-age stories.  Meg is a relatable protagonist, and the reader gets to join Meg in her adolescent experiences as she comes to terms with her own quirks, her lack of self-confidence, her father’s absence, and her responsibilities as a big sister and as a daughter.  L’Engle also presents the theme of good versus evil while subtly exploring religious, political, and dystopian perspectives.  In addition, she includes several allusions to renowned works of literature; while young readers may not understand the full significance of these literary connections, the allusions still expose readers to sophisticated writers and ideas.  This novel offers an exciting plot, an elegant writing style, and complex themes, and I highly recommend it to young readers.  A Wrinkle in Time was my favorite novel as a child, and rereading it as an adult reminded me why I loved reading it many years ago.

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2 Responses to Young Adult Literature Review #3

  1. Merisenda Bills says:

    I’ve actually never read this, and it’s been on my list for a while! Thanks for posting about it.

    Do you have any ideas of how you would facilitate discussion in the classroom around this book?

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    • I have never taught this or designed a unit for it, but I think it would fit well into a larger unit that includes adventure stories or books that explore the theme of good vs. evil. Asking students to put themselves in the main characters’ shoes and consider how they would react if they were swept away on a time travel adventure could lead to an interesting discussion/activity. Of course, discussing whether or not they believe in time travel or other worlds across the universe could be a fun discussion. Also, in my experience, middle school students are particularly interested in creative writing, so this book could introduce a creative writing unit in which students write science fiction stories.

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