Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

May 30, 2014 2014, classics, readalong, sci fi or futuristic, Wendy 64

a wrinkle in time

WWEEE ARREHHERRE! It’s time to discuss the seminal classic A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

If you’re joining us for the first time, welcome, welcome! Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you as soon as we can. (It’s a little nutty at the moment, but we’ll do our best–promise.) And if you’re one of our returning friends, we’re happy to see you! Hope you’re doing well with your 2014 classics challenge? I have to say, I really appreciate the fact that this series–and our accountability to you guys–is forcing me to make time to do something I enjoy so much. So thank you for joining us!

Onwards to the discussion. As always, spoilers are ahead.

 

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Wendy: Although this was a favorite of mine as a teenager, it’s been years since I read this book. I cannot believe how familiar it all felt, and I didn’t expect to be as awed and moved by it as I was. It’s a slim novel with a fairly straightforward story, and yet the complexity of its content and the beauty of its themes and ideas are immeasurable.

Kate: I read this for the first time in fourth grade, and have re-read it every few years since then. It makes me cry every single time, Wendy.

OH! And I very much do not recommend the audiobook narrated by Hope Davis. Meg and Calvin, in particular, are disappointingly annoying in it.

Wendy: I teared up this time, too. Meg Murry is one of the all-time great YA heroines, and I bet one that’s often dismissed as “unlikeable.” Her anger with her father struck me on this reading, especially how it’s in part a manifestation of anger with herself. I saw a tweet recently asking for recommendations for “angry” heroines, which got me thinking about how we don’t see as many of them anymore. I know I was bristling with passion and outrage and confusion as a teenager, which is only natural since your hormones are crazy and you’re trying to figure out where you fit into the scheme of things.

Kate: It’s funny…Calvin was the character I always related to when I read this while growing up, but I absolutely loved Meg. My parents were divorced, and my dad lived in another state (and was also in prison for a while), and when my little sister fell through the cracks, I felt like I was the only person in the world who actually cared about her, so I was totally, absolutely, fully on the same page as Meg, anger-wise. I didn’t think she was bratty at all.

This book also helped me to empathize with kids who did poorly in school. I could not understand how anyone at my elementary school managed not to make all As all the time without trying. I also got very annoyed with the kids who (like my husband, it turns out) couldn’t figure out how to read clocks. Meg is very smart in a way that doesn’t translate to traditional schooling, and I just love that.

“Have you done your homework, Meg?…then I’m sure Calvin won’t mind if you finish before dinner.”

Wendy: Parenting and homework present in a YA novel!

Kate: Meg’s mom is the best mom.

Wendy: She is. She seems so grounded and lovely, and I love that both her parents are scientists and there’s such a calm acceptance of all the kids and their personalities. And the adults communicate with the kids in a way that is direct and assumes their intelligence; they parent and/or guide, but they definitely expect kids to make decisions and be held accountable as well.

“Well, you know what, you’ve got dreamboat eyes,” Calvin said. “Listen, you go right on wearing your glasses. I don’t think I want anybody else to see what gorgeous eyes you have.”

Wendy: I’d forgotten how lovely the romance is here. There’s not a great deal of it, but what’s there is pretty swoony.

Kate: I have some issues with Ugly Duckling stories for adults only because ugly ducklings so frequently grow up to be ugly fucking ducks, and that’s not the worst thing in the world, but they’re really nice in YA and children’s lit. Also: Calvin sure did move in fast, huh?

Wendy: He did. The whole book sort of moved along fast, but it took its time where it counted, so I didn’t mind that. I love the descriptions of traveling through time and space. You get to experience the queer sensations, both physical and psychological, that Meg does because the author writes those scenes in such an evocative way. Her use imagery is so strong, too, particularly in showing the children The Dark Thing casting its shadow on the clear, clean mountain on Uriel.

The scene in which Mrs. Whatsit tells Meg, Charles, and Calvin about a star giving up its life in battle with the Thing moved me deeply.

“I see. Now I understand. You were a star, once, weren’t you?”

Mrs. Whatsit covered her face with her hands as though she was embarrassed, and nodded.

(and later)

She realized with a fresh shock that it was not Mrs. Whatsit herself she was seeing at all. The complete, true Mrs. Whatsit, Meg realized, was beyond human understanding.

Kate: My love for Mrs. Whatsit is pretty epic. There’s a family of three women in Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and there were A LOT of similarities between them and the Whatsits (aside from the normal three whitchy lady things). The Mrs. Whatsit character in TOatEotL was really, really lovely.

The other thing I love about the three ladies is that they’re actually genderless. I love the inclusion of non-cisgender characters (Kind of? Maybe they ARE technically cis since they’re not human so our ideas don’t apply. They’re not really transgender. I need to think about this.) in a book that was written around the time my mother was born.

Wendy: Yeah, it’s not something you see too often even now, and it was pretty radical for the time. This was written in 1963, just as Americans were also getting caught up in the excitement of space exploration. I haven’t read any biographies of this author, but L’Engle must’ve been influenced by that in some way.  It must’ve been so exciting to have such pivotal real-life events like that unfolding and helping to spark ideas about what was possible. Camazotz sounds a lot like our perception of the Soviet Union too, eh?

Kate: I love how different books are when you read them as an adult who understands what was going on in the world when they was being written.

Wendy: Charles Wallace’s possession is scary, man. Also, if my life and the life of this planet were dependent on my reciting the periodic table of elements, I’m sorry to say that we’re all going up in flames.

Kate: Oh man, I know.

Wendy: The Aunt Beast chapter is nothing but pure love and beauty, though. I love it so much, and I felt so safe and comforted as I read about how these creatures cared for her, and I love the descriptions of tentacles and fur and delicious nourishment.

Kate: Yes. And sleepy Meg trying to explain vision to the beasts was a lot of fun.

Wendy: I also love “WWEEE ARREHHERRE!”

Kate: I know. L’Engle said she read this to her kids as she was writing it. I’ll bet that part made them giggle like crazy.

Wendy: It must’ve been awesome to have her as a mom, too. It’s so interesting to see how the author addresses both science and religion in this novel. One cannot exist without the other, nor without the driving force of human emotion. I actually wondered how well Kim was going to fare with this one because of that, given our discussion on The Golden Compass. As it happens, she didn’t end up enjoying this book very much and bowed out of this chat because she’s also at BEA at the moment, but I would love to have heard her thoughts on it as an atheist.

Kate: Science and religion come from the same place. It’s all about wanting to understand what is going on in the universe. I think part of why I love fantasy so much is that mythology appeals to me on a really deep level. It’s a big part of why I was religious as a child, and why I consider myself Agnostic rather than Atheist now.

Did I ever tell you that when I was a teenager I tried to start worshipping the Greek gods because I thought it would be fun? It wasn’t fun at all. It was stupid.

Wendy: Hah, really? What a fascinating childhood you had, Kate. Have you read the other books in this series? My favorite L’Engle book is A Ring of Endless Light, followed by Meet the Austins. Those are realistic fiction rather than scifi, but they include similarly warm, close knit family dynamics. And swimming with dolphins.

Kate: I HATED A Ring of Endless Light when I read it in sixth grade because I love Meg’s series, and I was really, really, really expecting some fantasy or scifi elements (kind of like when I read Terry Pratchett’s Nation). Dolphins are great and all, but Meg rode a PEGASUS/CENTAUR. I should definitely revisit that one now that I’ve got some distance.

My least favorite of the  books in the Wrinkle In Time universe (does it count as part of the series or as a spin-off?) is Many Waters, in which Meg’s twin brothers travel back in time to when Noah built the ark.

Wendy: Oh, noo! Please do revisit Light sometime. I can see how you might get upset if you were waiting for something fantastical to happen, but aside from a very slight touch of maybe extra-sensory stuff, it’s just really well-written realistic fiction. She has so many books, though, that it does get a little confusing.

Kate: This is one of my top ten book series of all time. I LOVE these books.

Wendy: I can see why. I find it strange that I haven’t reread this more, and now I definitely need to read some sequels. Leigh Bardugo was just telling me yesterday that I need to at least read A Swiftly Tilting Planet for sure, as it was her favorite. I’m excited to pick them up!

 

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I already had a secondhand copy of this book, but couldn’t resist buying the shiny new anniversary edition when it came out a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed the introduction and afterword included, and I thought you all might be interested in a few of the tidbits from it as well.

Trivia from the 50th Anniversary Edition:

  • The book went through a year of rejections from multiple publishers. John Farrar at what is now Farrar, Straus, and Giroux eventually bought the book, and her editor sent out a letter soliciting quotes saying it defied classification, was going to make “greater intellectual and emotional demands on 12-16 year olds than most formula fiction, and would likely be a hard book to sell, but “”I for one believe that the capabilities of young readers are greatly underestimated.”
  • Her granddaughter says L’Engle was baffled by accusations from both Christian groups and those who believed it was too overtly Christian. “She antagonized the same crowd that would later want to burn the Harry Potter books.”
  • L’Engle was also “stung” by occasional reader disappointment as well. (Spoiler!) Meg goes on to marry Calvin and acts as his lab assistant while raising their children. The author insisted that “the promise of feminism was that if a woman was free to focus her attentions on a career, she was also free to focus on her family.”

 

divider vine croppedJune and July Readalong Announcements

Well, it was a pretty close vote, but The Westing Game pulled ahead with more votes, so that’s the title we’ll be reading in June! If you’ve never read this twisty mystery that is jam-packed with red herrings, you’re in for a treat: it’s basically an Agatha Christie-style mystery for kids, with an unforgettable cast of characters as well as a kickass heroine named Turtle Wexler. Um, she actually kicks people’s shins. But that’s neither here nor there.

June Book: The Westing Game
Author: Ellen Raskin
Amazon Links: paperback and ebook, both around $4
Discussion Date: Friday, June 27th
Twitter hashtag: #tmgreadalong

WestingGame8A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger – and a possible murderer – to inherit his vast fortune, one things’ for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Winner of the Newbery Medal
Winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award
An ALA Notable Book

 

We’ve also pre-selected our July book because summer’s a bit busy and we want to give you a head start on All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Okay, and this is also one of my favorite books, and it’s not as well known, so we’re hoping that our readers who enjoy everyday stories about growing up (during the early 1900s in New York!) will join us. We’ll tell you more about it next month.

 

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Share Your Thoughts

So! Tell us what you thought of A Wrinkle in Time. Was it your first time reading? Or what’s your history with this classic?

I have to shamefacedly tell you all that we’re still in a crazy period at The Midnight Garden, so please bear with us since we’re not on top of responding to your comments as much as usual, nor tweeting on the hashtag much, nor with visiting the lovely friends who drop by to see us! Kim’s at BEA as we speak, Kate’s just gotten back from overseas and just finished with a major event, and I’ve been dealing with some family issues that will continue to occupy my time for the next month or so. We sincerely appreciate the conversation, however, and we’re hoping to get back on track as we head into June. We have so many great posts planned already, though, so it’s going to be a fun, if crazy, month!

Wendy signature teal

 

 

 

 

 

64 Responses to “Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time”

  1. Amanda

    I remember reading this book as a teen and not really liking it. After reading your post, though, maybe I’ll revisit it to see if I understand or appreciate it a little more. Isn’t it funny how some of the most popular books are the ones that got rejected so many times and for so long? I always think of the Harry Potter series when that subject comes up.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh GOOD, you got yourself a copy after all! You answered all your own questions without our help–apologies again, E. *sigh*

  2. Thomas

    I haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time, but the depth of the conversation featured in this post makes me way more inclined to pick it up – space exploration and non-cisgender characters sound fabulous in the context of a book aimed toward slightly younger readers.
    Thomas recently posted…Gossip: Good for the Soul, Believe It or Not

  3. Tracy (@Cornerfolds)

    I first read this book in fourth grade also. At 26 years old, I do not remember anything about it! It’s funny that nothing in this discussion sparks any memories. Especially considering this is THE book that really pulled me into reading. I guess it’s time to get a copy and read it again…

  4. Layla A

    Weirdly, I think I read “Many Waters” and “A Swiftly Tilting Planet” the most out of all of L’Engle’s Murry books – & I also loved “Troubling a Star” and “A Ring of Endless Light” a lot.

    “Many Waters” is a weird book in a lot of ways. I’m trying to figure out why I liked it so much as a child – I was pretty religious at the time, so it’s possible that the idea that I could imaginatively participate in (what I knew as) biblical history was a draw for me. Ditto, the negotiation between skepticism and faith that the twins play out, as that was something I struggled with as a kid. Idk. Since it’s a theme of both MW and ASTP, I suspect I was also drawn to the idea that your individual choices could affect, like, the course of human history or something.

    “A Ring of Endless Light” had a horrible Disney made-for-TV movie, though it did turn me onto early modern poetry and I am grateful as hell for that.

    Also, re: “A Wrinkle in Time,” it took me YEARS before I got the “happiest sadist” thing in the book. I had no idea what a sadist was and remember being super confused by that.
    Layla A recently posted…The Girl with All the Gifts

    • Wendy Darling

      Ahhh, another RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT fan! That makes me super happy. I need to read the other books in this series sometime, your comments on “the negotiation between skepticism and faith” intrigues me.

      I have had that RING movie for literally, over 10 years, and have never been able to bring myself to watch it. Why can’t we get some great big screen adaptations of her books, eh? Stop optioning cookie cutter YA crap, Hollywood, and look at thee classics!

  5. Paige Nguyen

    I loved this book so much growing up! I also loved that it went through a year of rejections- it’ll give me hope whenever the inevitable rejection letters start coming for me! I especially love that the reason it DID get picked up was that Farrar believed in the reading capabilities of young people.

    • Wendy Darling

      I love that anniversary edition so much for including the background on its journey to publication. I appreciate the author and publisher even more now.

  6. Elizabeth

    Madeline L’Engle completely changes how I look at the world every time I read her. Although I absolutely love this series (I think A Swiftly Tilting Planet might be my favourite of the series, although I honestly love all the books to death. The only book I didn’t love was An Acceptable Time which doesn’t really set with the rest of the series. Maybe b/c it’s a bit of an Austen crossover?), A Ring of Endless Light is my go to book when I need comfort or a reality check. I actually didn’t enjoy the rest of the Austen series as much, but that book in particular is a life changer. Every time I read it I bring something new out from it. The way that L’Engle deals with both religion and science in all her books (but particularly in ARoEL) has really helped me throughout the years. I also identify as Agnostic, and I definitely credit her books for a portion of that. Growing up in the Bible Belt had a rather polarizing effect on science vs. religion and some of the only moments I feel like I understand anything about Christianity at all happen when I reading a L’Engle novel.
    Elizabeth recently posted…A Day in the Life (10)

    • Wendy Darling

      A Ring of Endless Light is my go to book when I need comfort or a reality check. I actually didn’t enjoy the rest of the Austen series as much, but that book in particular is a life changer. Every time I read it I bring something new out from it.

      I love this–I come across so few people who love this book as much as I do, so thank you for this. It was a transformative book for me, too–it made me look at everything in a different way, and it did so even though it was a relatively quiet story. I also liked the first Austin book, though it’s very different in tone and definitely written for the MG crowd, but I’d agree that the others aren’t nearly as complex or interesting. I felt that way as a child, and though I’d like to revisit all the L’Engles at some point and trace the connections between the series, I am pretty sure I’ll feel the same way as an adult.

      L’Engle is a wonder. I’m not a religious person, but I very much appreciate her thoughts on science and religion, and how they are not at odds at all, but in perfect harmony. While so many discussions of a religious nature can sound exclusionary or judgmental or pronounced in finite statements, I love hearing L’Engle’s spirituality–I’m simplifying, but it seems so reassuring and loving and comforting, somehow.

  7. E

    Really disappointed that I missed this one – I’ve never read it before and the discussion looks really good. Life got in the way, *sighs* I’ll try and catch up to read the next one, I need to get my act together a bit. Is it ok to join in for the next one?
    E recently posted…Mr B’s Reading Year – Burial Rites

    • Wendy Darling

      E! Ugh, I’m so sorry I missed seeing this comment, too. It’s been tough here. :(

      But yes, of course we’d love for you to join in THE WESTING GAME this week, or if it’s too late, join in with ALL OF A KIND FAMILY in July! Tweet along if you read throughout the month, or you can just pop in on the last Friday to discuss. Apologies again for the delay in answering, we’re usually much better about staying on top of our responses.

  8. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I read this as a young child and then again late in middle school and my experience both times was vastly different. Where I didn’t understand much of the science as a young child but loved this story for its magical quality, I became almost TOO caught up in the science as an older child and couldn’t appreciate the rest of this piece. I definitely need to re-visit it a few years down the road and finally pick up more on L’Engle as I haven’t read anything of hers with the exception of this.

    And OH, I remember thinking The Westing Game was so BRILLIANT when I read it as a kid, so I hope if I re-read it I won’t find the mystery too easy to solve. I really did LOVE it when I was younger. :)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: An Unexpected Gentleman by Alissa Johnson

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, you certainly had very different experiences both times that you read this book. I tease you about this all the time, but I can see the logical science part of your brain analyzing the time travel and theories.

      I hope THE WESTING GAME lives up to your expectations as an adult! I’ve reread it so many times, and I love it more every time I leaf through its pages.

  9. Sash from Sash & Em

    Oh, A Wrinkle in Time! <3 As I mentioned to Wendy a week or two ago on twitter, I just listened to this quartet (An Acceptable Time not counted, of course) over Christmas and this series is something really special. My favorite book was A Wind in the Door and oh, how I loved the "I NAME YOU" portions of that book – to be called by name is such a special thing and makes me think John 20:11-18, where Jesus calls Mary by her name and she realizes that it is him. I actually cried during those scenes in A Wind in the Door with Meg and those she calls by name. Being religious, I did see the religious undertones of the book and enjoy them immensely. I did also thoroughly enjoy Many Waters – Noah's Ark! I'm sad to see that many people didn't enjoy it. :-\

    Again with Narnia – I really enjoyed the religious aspects of these books – (spoiler) Aslan sacrificing himself for the sin of another with two women weeping at his feet (a scene that is one of my all time favorites and makes me tear up just thinking about it). And especially at the end of The Last Battle – oh, my heart. C.S. Lewis was close friends with Tolkien, who was a devout Catholic (most people don't know that The Lord of the Rings trilogy has MANY Catholic undertones).

    I just wish that the movie would have done A Wrinkle in Time justice! (that Disney TV movie is AWFUL)

    Thanks for the discussion ladies!
    Sash from Sash & Em recently posted…Top Ten Books That Should Be In Your Beach Bag + Giveaway

    • Wendy Darling

      TERRIBLE, I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON for not responding to this lovely comment sooner.

      I’m excited to hear that you enjoyed the audiobooks for this, Sash–that would be such a great way to experience these stories! I may have to look into that for the sequels.

      I did not have a religious upbringing, and it’s not part of my life now, but I can appreciate how well crafted these books are both in terms of being amazing stories in their own right as well as in how they spoke to the authors’ beliefs. And both L’Engle and Pullman did it in a way that wasn’t too heavy-handed for secular readers. The sacrifice Aslan makes is beautiful and moving in and of itself, but certainly you must appreciate that scene on a whole other level.

      I never thought about religious undertones in Tolkien, but then again I haven’t read him. From what’s filtered down story-wise and pop culture-wise, that totally makes sense, though. It’s interesting to see how many epic good vs. evil battles in literature might’ve been inspired by the authors’ spiritual beliefs, whether consciously or unconsciously.

      Thank YOU for the discussion! I appreciated hearing your thoughts on this one.

  10. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Reading your discussion, I’m recalling how much I love this story. Meg was the sensible older sibling with the “strange” brother (I related to Meg since she was the older sister with the odd brother…). Still, I adored Charles Wallace, though I felt for Meg trying to keep him out of trouble (maybe she needed one of those kid leashes). You know, I think I might have to do a redo of this series, just because.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Marvelous Middle Grade: THE GLASS SENTENCE by S.E. Grove

    • Kate Bond

      I have spent a large portion of my life wrangling a sometimes very difficult little sister, so I always really related to that part. I’m much more like Calvin as a person, though.

      I used to think those kid leashes were cruel, and then I took a friend’s four-year-old boy to the zoo, and Jesus Christ, what I wouldn’t have paid to keep him strapped to my person.

  11. A Canadian Girl

    I’m pretty sure I read this one back in Grade 4 or so – well, we started reading it as a class but I didn’t have the patience to wait for a chapter to be read each day and so ended up reading it on my own – and then have periodically skimmed it since. This is probably one of my favourite sci-fi novels and I loved Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which.

    Like Kate, I found Many Waters to be my least favourite book in the series – the twins just aren’t as interesting as Meg or Charles – and didn’t fall in love with A Ring of Endless Light. Lol, I guess even back then, I didn’t really like love triangles.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

    • Kate Bond

      Many Waters is kind of baffling when read as a part of the Wrinkle in Time universe, right? It’s so weird, and the boys are just too normal and cool. And all the angel stuff is weird.

      Did you try Ring of Endless Light after the Wrinkle books, knowing they shared an author? I think that’s what screwed me out of liking it.

      Reading as a class was AGONIZING, and we got in trouble for reading ahead at my school. This is another example of my childhood arrogance and lack of empathy when it came to people who were different from me, intelligence-wise.

  12. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Yes, us people at my blog haven’t been around as we all are serious victims of homework and exams *sobs mournfully*

    anyhoo, I love the sound of this book! I definitely want to join you ladies in a readalong soon. I’m thinking the only in July as that will be during the school holidays and I will be on blog hiatus then.

    Lovely discussion! <33

    • Kate Bond

      Mel, I can’t believe you haven’t read this one yet! Although I guess you read more current stuff, huh, for the blog?

  13. Katie @ Spirit of Children's Literature

    I was so excited that A Wrinkle in Time was on the read along schedule! Now I definitely want to read A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I completely agree with you about the “complexity” of the the book’s content and the “beauty of its themes.” I think this story will remain a classic for these reasons. I actually wrote about this book for my master’s thesis when I explored four British and American fantasy/science fiction novels reflecting spiritual themes written in the period, 1958-1962. I think Meg’s and Charles Wallace’s relationship is so strong–and though in other stories it might seem cheesy the way “love conquers all” (like you mentioned earlier), in this one it works. The connection between the two and the way Charles Wallace can read Meg’s mind is yet another spiritual aspect of the story, I think.
    The Neil Gaiman book connection–I hadn’t thought of that, but really interesting about the three women!
    When I was writing about L’Engle’s book, I came across something that compared the names, Mrs. Who, Mr. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which to the types of names in Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies. He had character names like Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby and Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid. Pretty funny!! :)

    So happy about reading The Westing Game! I even included it on the reading list for an online children’s lit. class I’m teaching this summer, and have never taught the book before, so am excited to see what the students think….

    Best wishes to you all as you navigate the busy times–I certainly know what you mean!
    Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature recently posted…Favorite Middle Grade & Young Adult Titles Read This Year (so far): #ArmchairBEA, Day 5

    • Wendy Darling

      You know, I’ve never read THE WATER BABIES and I really must sometime. It’s one of those classics that I think has fallen out of fashion for some reason, it’s mostly when I read older books where they talk about it. It does sound like L’Engle might’ve been a fan!

      I hope you’ve enjoyed reading THE WESTING GAME. We’ve been so lax in tweeting on the hashtag this month because we’ve been SO busy, but hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

      Thanks for stopping by, Katie!

  14. Emma L

    I was really looking forward to reading this book as it is another one I haven’t read before, but I have to say I really struggled to finish the book. This for me was a really boring read, I just could not get into it.

    In saying that, there were two things I did appreciate the book. The first was that it didn’t treat the age group it was aimed at as morons and explained some pretty complex ideas, such as time travel, in such a great way. Secondly, Meg’s anger with her father was written so well it actually made me feel a bit uncomfortable. It was sad that a girl could feel that much disappointment in her father, and it made me pity the father terribly – which is probably why it made me uncomfortable. To write that sort emotion into a novel aimed at young people, I think was quite refreshing to see.

    I am sorry I couldn’t enjoy this book as much as others, but I am looking forward to giving The Westing Game a go :)

    • Kate Bond

      I’m fascinated that you found it to be boring. Hmm. Do you usually read books that were written more recently?

      I’m excited about Westing Game, too. It sounds AWESOME.

      • Emma L

        I tend to read more recent books, but I don’t think that is why I didn’t enjoy it. I absolutely loved last month’s read, Anne of Green Gables and I have read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and enjoyed it. I don’t know why but I just could not get into the storyline and/or the characters. I wonder if I would have liked it more if I has read it as a child, rather than being introduced to it as a 39 year old woman :)

        • Kate Bond

          I was asking whether you read more recent books just because I personally have a hard time recalibrating my boring-meter when I switch from a recent novel to an older one, adn I thought maybe this might be a symptom of that.

          And funny thing: I actually thought Anne was kind of boring, mostly because I read it after a very exciting fantasy novel, but also because I read it for the first time as an adult.

          • Emma L

            That might be it Kate, I had just finished a very full on sci fi book when I started A Wrinkle in Time, so maybe that impacted on my ability to enjoy an older style book aimed at a completely different audience.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m sorry you weren’t as keen on this book, Emma! It’s not to everyone’s taste, though. Kim didn’t end up loving it either, I think there might’ve been too many religious overtones for her taste.

      I liked the way Meg’s anger at her father was written as well–I know I was terribly angry as a teenager, and I think many (all?) teens go through that. But like you say, it’s not something we see portrayed very often because it’s not “nice” and it’s hard to carry off successfully, particularly if the relationship is loving overall.

      I hope you liked THE WESTING GAME better. And if you’re a fan of ANNE, I’m hoping you’ll also be a fan of our July book!

  15. Brenda

    I’m excited to be reading The Westing Game. It was one of the America’s Battle of Books (BOB) selected this year (it’s a reading incentive program for 3rd-5th grade at our school. They read from a list of 20 books or so selected by BOB and then are split up into teams and answer questions in the format of in “which book did the main character…”) Points are awarded for author and title. I’m always amazed at how much fun the kids have reading the books. Some of the other titles were Ida B, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Hobbit and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It’s always a nice mix of books and both boys and girls really get into it. I unfortunately didn’t get to read this one with my child, but it will be fun to compare notes when I finish it next month. Thanks for always picking these wonderful books, I hate to think what else I missed out on.

    • Kate Bond

      I’d never heard of this BOB thing! It sounds awesome.

      I wonder whether the “Book It!” program still exists. Where if you read a certain amount you get a button and a coupon for a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. And in the summer you can earn tickets to Six Flags (which was my local theme park).

      • Brenda

        It sounds familiar and I know we received a pizza from Pizza Hut before. I’m up for anything that encourages reading, but I stay away from picking the book. I just want it to be fun and not a chore. I thought BOB would be like that at first but thankfully everyone seemed to think it was fun.

  16. Brenda

    I’m pretty sure as a kid I would have enjoyed this book just for the swoony romance pieces. I didn’t really read Meg as unlikable, more misunderstood and really wanting to fit in. She seemed pretty hard on herself too. Being my first time reading this, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m more of a fantasy kind of gal so I haven’t read a ton of science fiction. But, I loved how Pili put describes the science aspects ” I loved how it was presented as a wondrous thing, something that can be understood and explained but still worthy of wonder and admiration, not just analytical and boring.” I think that’s the part that made this a fun read.
    Brenda recently posted…Review of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

    • Kate Bond

      It’s funny that this book is considered science fiction, because in my mind it’s always qualified as fantasy–probably because of what Pili said.

      And Calvin is great, but the way he jumped right into being a part of Meg’s family has always kind of weirded me out a bit. I guess I’m alone in that regard.

  17. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    This is one of those books that is a touchstone for my life, especially in how it treats science and religion. I like how Pili put it, that it treats science “as a wondrous thing, something that can be understood and explained but still worthy of wonder and admiration, not just analytical and boring.” Likewise it doesn’t ask us to check our brains at the door when considering questions of religion, but sees it as something that is meant to expand our minds and hearts, not limit and constrain them.

    This month I read a different SF classic, Enchantress from the Stars. It takes a different approach which I found a bit problematic — but it’s still interesting.
    Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted…Enchantress from the Stars: Armchair BEA Day Five

    • Kate Bond

      I love when books look at science in a way that isn’t dry or boring–especially books for young people. You know, scifi that feels like fantasy. My husband is the opposite, and loves hard scifi, which he considers to be in no way boring. Sigh.

  18. Carina Olsen

    I.. have never read this book. Or really heard anything about it o.O Living in Norway sucks, lol. But ohh. I didn’t read all of the duscussion, in case anything was spoiled for me, but I read all the quotes. And swoon! They are gorgeous :D I love the romance one. Sniffs. So cute. I think I should check out more about this book. Thank you all for sharing. <3 :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

  19. Vivien

    I opted not to read along with this discussion. I had read this book for the first time last May. Note: I did listen to the audiobook instead of actually reading it. The reason I didn’t want to join in is because I remembered not really liking this book. I did give it 3 stars at the time because I could recognize it’s impact.
    Now call me curious when I first started reading this post. Kate mentions the audiobook being terribly annoying. I’m really wondering now if that may have been my issue as well. So often, I forget how an audiobook can really affect the way you feel about a book. So now I feel like I SHOULD have read along and give this one another chance. Of course.
    To be honest though, I really struggle with religion in books. So often I feel they get preachy, and I just check out. But as Kate mentioned, you can’t have science without religion. And that is completely true. I don’t remember feeling like this one was preachy. So it may have just been the audiobook, again, making the themes overwhelming.
    So ladies, thanks for the discussion. Without it, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to revisit this one. I’ll be sure to actually read the print. More often than not, that’s the format it was intended for.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, how interesting. Audiobooks can make or break a book for me, too–I’m glad Kate mentioned her experience with the audio so that you might consider revisiting it. I’d love to hear whether your experience is different if you do revisit it, Vivien. I understand how the religious themes can be off-putting, though. I was actually thinking in bed last night that it’s interesting that of the 4 books we’ve read for the readalongs so far, half of them have spiritual ideals presented in them! Which is remarkable since none of us at TMG are particularly religious, and in some cases, quite the opposite. It just speaks to the classic appeal of the struggle between good and evil, I suppose.

      • Katie @ Spirit of Children's Literature

        Wendy–

        Really interesting the four books have reflected spiritual ideals! And I think you’re right–that classic struggle between good and evil seems to usher in a spiritual landscape (even if the author isn’t trying to be spiritual and religious). I’ve done a lot of thinking about the difference between religion and spirituality, and it’s all so fascinating to me. So happy that TMG has been picking such thought-provoking books that do leave room for discussion about “spirituality” in a non-religious way!
        Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature recently posted…‘I Promise to Always Turn Back Toward You’: Top Ten (Tuesday) Books About Friendship

        • Kate Bond

          Well, people were more likely to be religious back in the day–it was just kind of understood that God existed–so it makes sense that the classics we’re looking at contain those elements (although Pullman went the opposite way with it). What bums me out about religion in books is when adherence to a certain set of beliefs–such as Christianity–determines whether or not a person is good. And Wrinkle doesn’t do that.

      • Kate Bond

        Yeah, I’d recommend actually reading the book if you’re at all interested, Vivien. The audiobook (the Hope Davis one, anyway) really, really was not good. Calvin and Charles Wallace both sounded vaguely like Bart Simpson, and Meg was suuuuuuuch a brat. And the adults all spoke kind of slowly. SUch a bummer.

  20. Rashika

    MY FAVORITE BOOK IS A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT TOO. In fact it’ll definitely always be in my top 3 because it’s just such a gorgeous book. Plus it totally made me want to be a marine biologist for a short period of time (and ADAMMMM).

    Going back to A Wrinkle in Time, it was so fun reading this discussion ladies. I am so heartbroken that I didn’t have time to read along with you guys and I really wish I could have. Stupid exams. But hey that’s all over now.

    I actually read A Wrinkle in Time not that long ago (a couple of years) and I remember how I almost didn’t because I didn’t like the edition the library had. I’d actually had my eye on A Wrinkle in Time for years before I had picked it up but I never got around to and when I finally made up my mind, all the editions with the prettier covers were checked out so I was stuck with one that looked.. well ugly.. but I read it and I must say it was worth it a million times over.

    When I read it, I never really noticed that Meg was an angry teenager and I guess because when I read it, I was a pre-teen (and pretty damn angsty myself) so I found it easy to relate to her. I wonder what I’d feel like if I read it again now. I am almost pretty sure I wouldn’t mind though because… there is a certain sense of nostalgia attached to the book.. and I am the kind of person who tends to value nostalgia over.. other things :P

    I remember love Mrs Whatsit,her mom, Calvin, her brother and all these other wonderful characters.
    Reading this makes me feel so nostalgic ladies. I REALLLY need to re-read it one of these days.

    On a side note, do you think being able to recite the first 10-20 elements counts? :P

    (also, I AM SO HAPPY that the next book is The Westing Game.. I AM SO PUMPED to read it :D)
    Rashika recently posted…Random Things in Motion #2: Philosophizing Death (a.k.a.) How easy it is to say “die, you, villain, you!”

    • Wendy Darling

      OMG, Rashika!! You love A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT, too? This is why we get along so well. <3 <3 <3 That book forever changed how I felt about love of family and romantic love. And I TOTALLY went through a period where wanted to be a marine biologist because of it, too! Adam Eddington, man. One of my first fictional crushes.

      I'm sorry you weren't able to join us for the readalong, but I'm glad you stopped in. I read this as a teenager too, so yeah, I completely related to her as well. I mean, I still relate to and understand her as an adult, but I bet there are people who say they don't like her.

      If you are able to recite the first 10 - 20 elements, maybe you'll save at least a percentage of Earth, hah. I'll make sure I'm standing close to you if the time comes, hee hee.

      And yay for WESTING GAME!! Have you read it before, or will this be your first time?

      • Kate Bond

        Ah, see, my Marine Biology phase was fourth and fifth grade; by the time I read A Ring of Endless Light I’d outgrown my obsession with whales.

        I re-read a lot of books (Lord of the Rings, Phantom Tollbooth, Frank Stockton’s short stories, The Little Prince…pretty much everything I loved in elementary school) regularly for the nostalgia factor. I hardly ever read YA or MG books, though, so I’m discovering most of these (such as The Westing Game!) for the first time.

        And I don’t think Meg’s attitude ever tips over into brattiness, and Team Mrs helps make it seem less annoying when they tell her that her faults are the great strength that will help her.

  21. Pili

    Well, it was my first time reading this one despite having heard fantastic things about it for a long time, and I loved it to bits!

    I think Meg was a brilliant character! She is angry because she’s different, because people judge her and her family without any real basis, she’s angry at her father for not being home, she’s angry at her mum for having face on him, she’s angry at herself for her anger and for wanting to fit in… Oh dear, I so wish I would have read this book at any point when I was 13-16… It would have done me so much good! I kept on struggling with accepting that I was different in my own little ways and it took me a while to accept and wear proudly my motto of “if by weird you mean awesome”.

    I absolutely adored the treatment of science in this novel, I loved how it was presented as a wondrous thing, something that can be understood and explained but still worthy of wonder and admiration, not just analytical and boring. I also loved how Meg’s parents and the three Mrs’s treated the kids as people, not as if they were stupid and wouldn’t understand or be capable of acting, as many other adults did (or do in real life).

    Surprisingly, the religious undertones here and there didn’t really bother me much. As an atheist I usually don’t appreciate being preached at, but whenever some religious undertones came up here, they were never preachy enough to bother me. I can’t say the same thing about the Narnia books…

    I also adored the emphasis on love as the redeeming and saving quality and ability by the end of the book. Love is a great force we all should use more for good! All in all, I’m extremely happy I read this book and keep on hoping I could have read it long way back!

    Thank you for this readalongs, ladies! I think I will be joining June’s one too! I love murder mysteries!
    Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: ARC Review Paranoia by J.R. Johansson!

    • Wendy Darling

      PILI!! This makes me so happy. Honestly, if one person discovers one of these classics because of our readalong, that counts as success enough for me. <3 I was curious about how adults coming into this with fresh eyes would perceive it too, so it's so good to hear that you loved it.

      I absolutely adored the treatment of science in this novel, I loved how it was presented as a wondrous thing, something that can be understood and explained but still worthy of wonder and admiration, not just analytical and boring.

      This is such a beautiful and spot-on observation. My very favorite science fiction books are the ones that capture that feeling of wonder–this acknowledgement that it is impossible that we will ever comprehend the mystery of the universe, and yet we will never stop striving for it. That curiosity, that yearning to understand and be understood, is such a fundamental part of human nature. I got this same feeling from reading R.J. Anderson’s ULTRAVIOLET–have you read that? It’s the reason I compared the author’s writing to L’Engle’s when I wrote my review.

      I am not a religious person, but the religious undertones didn’t bother me in this book, either. (I need to revisit Narnia to see how I feel about that!) There’s a great deal of love and comfort and idealism in the way the struggle between good and evil is presented here, it’s not presented in an exclusionary, preachy way at all.

      I actually was a bit afraid of how I would feel about both the religion and the love conquering all as an adult, because I’ve sneered at the latter as a solution in a few modern-day YA novels. But the way this was written, with its urgency and emotion, and especially in Meg’s pure love for her brother, was so moving to me. In most contemporary YA books, it would be love for the dumb love interest that just came along in the last few months (sorry, Calvin). *cough* HALO *cough*

      Thank you SO much for sharing your feelings, Pili! I’m thrilled you’re joining us for THE WESTING GAME, too. If you love murder mysteries, this is going to shoot right onto your favorites list!

      • Pili

        I also loved Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson! And the sequel Quicksilver! I keep on hoping the author will add more companion stories to that universe, cause I love how the science is treated as understandable and wonderful and not something that should fly over our heads!

        I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan, so I’m excited for The Westing Game, just got it for my Kindle! =D
        Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: ARC Review Paranoia by J.R. Johansson!

        • Kate Bond

          The religious stuff didn’t bother me here because L’Engle used it as another source of wonder and goodness rather than as a source of punishment–although the early, pre-The Last Battle Narnia books don’t bother me that much because it just kind of feels like any fantasy book’s mythology.

          I really enjoyed the love thing in Wrinkle because it’s sibling love.

          And I had no idea you were a fellow Agatha Christie fan! She has been a favorite of mine since childhood! Hooray for The Westing Game (which I’ve never read)!

    • Diane

      Thank you Pili for your motto. I’ve always said I consider the description “weird’ a compliment. But I love your motto — if by weird you mean awesome. I’ll be wearing it proud.

      I’ve read this book several times over the last 20 years. I read it the first time when my 4 children were all teenagers. There were some tough years in there, and the pure force of good vs evil, with “good” (love) being the winner, was a very strong theme for me. It carried me through lots of days.

      I love the characters and the value put on all their different qualities. Some good at things others are not. Meg is lucky to be part of a family who accepts and loves people for who they are, even if they don’t quite fit in society’s mold.

      I love the science. Imagine what it would be like to actually put a wrinkle in time and travel a long, long distance. This is coming from the person who thought that traveling to the moon would, in my lifetime, be just like getting on a jet to go to NYC. I wanted to go there to look back at the earth and see what it looks like. I’ve only recently been able to let go of that dream. My friend’s astronaut brother showed up pictures of the earth he took from the Space Shuttle. A fantastic dream sort of came true.

      To me the controlled society reflects not only societies like the USSR, but the US in the struggles that were going on in the 60’s about individual rights and the strength of our government, conformity and non-conformity.

      I love the first three books of this series. I think though that A Swiftly Tilting Planet is my favorite. When I read it I’m always transferred right into the setting. Guess now I need to read A Ring of Endless Night – but after The Westing Game.

      Wendy, I hope your family situation smooths out soon.

      Thanks for the discussion. Hope you all have a good evening.
      Diane

      • Kate Bond

        I agree about the first three books. I think I probably love Wrinkle and Swiftly equally, but A Wind in the Door is my least favorite of the three. And I very much did not enjoy Many Waters.

        I read this for the first time as a child, and the idea of putting a wrinkle in time was so incredibly seductive for me. I became kind of obsessed with it.

        I’m nervous about re-reading A Ring of Endless Light as an adult because I so didn’t enjoy it as a child, but I need to get over it.