Madeline L’Engle won the John Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1963 for A Wrinkle in Time, which was initially rejected more than thirty times before being published. It has remained in continuous publication since the original publication in 1963.
She wrote mostly children’s books during her lifetime and A Wrinkle in Time is the first in a set of books called the “Kairos” books about the Murry and O’Keefe’s families. She also wrote a different set of books with different characters called the “Chronos”.
Meg, Unlikely Heroine
The main character in A Wrinkle in Time is Meg Murry, a thirteen year old impatient girl. She is an unlikely heroine of the story and that is what makes her the perfect main character for this book full of magic, imagination and fantasy. She is an awkward teenager who doesn’t fit in at school. She is portrayed as intelligent, but not a child prodigy like her younger brother. She also lacks athletic ability like her older brothers. She generally has great difficulty with not only fitting in with her peers but also in her classes. Her math ability has far exceeded her grade level, but this does not reflect in her grades because she completes her math assignments in her own way, which is not what her teachers expect of her. To further complicate her life at school, her father has been away on a secret mission and by appearances has simply abandoned his family. She is exposed to the idle gossip of the community and inquisitive questions from even well meaning figures such as her principal.
Though Meg complains frequently during the story, she is overall a likable character. She represents the awkward teen in all of us at one time or another when we feel out of place. Though she thinks and protests that she can’t and is quite impatient, she persists to the end despite being afraid, numerous obstacles and her own impatience. One of her ‘faults’, her stubbornness, is turned into a positive during the story and serves her well. In fact her persistence in completing the mission is the driving force of the book and is portrayed in a positive light.
Meg is an insecure teenager facing some of the same difficulties that teens face today and of course some that teens don’t typically face, such as having a parent Tesseract to an alien planet and held captive. Meg overcomes instead of succumbs to the pressures and difficulties that she faces and finds something unique and valuable about herself that she did not know before. She discovers that she has, and has had all along, the ability to solve even the toughest problems inside of herself.
L’Engle’s book is perhaps more relevant today than it was when it was first written. The message that is portrayed through and by Meg is one that counteracts our current culture that you need something external (e.g. latest gadget, brand name clothes, straight A’s, popularity, smart phone, latest video game, etc) in order to be somebody. Meg demonstrates that you can be yourself and and that is enough.
“…And they were gone.”
The unlikely heroine is the perfect main character in a book of fantasy and science fiction that every pre-teen and young teenage girl should read. This book demonstrates that even Meg is enough by simply being herself. Meg, with all of her faults, with her impatience to the point of brattiness, and with her stubbornness, is enough. A Wrinkle in Time is the perfect vehicle to share this message of unique intrinsic value with young girls.
Share this book with any young girl age ten to fifteen years old. You never know what profound influence Meg and the other characters may have on her. A Wrinkle in Time is that rare book that is in the words of Madeline L’Engle, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly.”