A Wrinkle in Time

Book review by Katherine Olney, Common Sense Media
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Common Sense says

age 9+

Classic sci-fi story still inspires and gets kids thinking.

Parents say

age 9+

Based on 34 reviews

Kids say

age 9+

Based on 118 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 8+

Beautiful, thought-provoking, and charming...except for when it's not (don't let bad reviews scare you, this works for many personalities, read on to see if you're a match)

NOTE: The back of the book says it's for 10+ but my child is a great reader and would have done just fine at age 8, plus you can always read it to them instead. The only hard part is the quotes from Shakespeare and KJV Bible. PROS: This book draws you in really well although it does take some time to get to the action. The author reaches out to appeal to lots of people, the scientific mind, and the literary mind, esp. It has the old fashioned romantic theme with the struggling girl and the understanding older boy reaching for her hand and trying to protect her. Yet at the same time they mix it with some feminism, coming of age, math and science smarts, and standing up for oneself in the main character. The main character is both nurtured like a little girl and yet empowered enough to save the world. The author herself made this book through the eyes of and perspective of women and girls' hopes and dreams, and all of the guides along the way--the happy medium, aunt beast, the 3 angels/former celestial bodies--are all women, which is unique. You even get the perspective of mothers which is great for a mother-child read (I'm a woman if you can't tell). Here is a mom trying to be strong, and loved by a wonderfully empathetic and quick to learn child that every mom wants and may see (at least I do) in their child (even though he's unrealistic at times), and a soul mate of a husband and yet both of those strength's in a woman's life takes a turn for the worst, they participate in every mother's/wife's worst fears--being seemingly lost forever and completely unreachable. You'll laugh at the silly old ladies (yes old, I like that they did that, apparently the movies based on this, although I haven't seen them, are adverse to portraying elderly women as heroes which is frustrating for being inclusive, that and the fact the movies were both flops in turns of revenue tells you that you should start with the book first). You'll probably be surprised by the inclusion of spiritual concepts which is a nice touch as you are reminded that there are better things out there and not everything is left to chance. There is also speaking out against controlling others and against reducing diversity. Once you realize what is going on the book becomes enchanting. The importance of love conquers all isn't done in a tacky/shallow way, it's truly an engaging way to look at the world and the problems in it. If you like to ponder and think about the big things in life and mix it in with adventure, you won't find it boring. For those worried about preaching, I would say the Chronicles of Narnia are much more preachy than this--she does a fantastic job of giving you a nugget of light and let you think about what you want to do with it rather than pushing anything--and the villian is far more complex, more along the line of Thanos than the White Witch. However she doesn't hide that the heavenly beings worship God as most of the West understands it. The author herself said she didn't realize what the story meant until after she wrote it, she wasn't trying to craft a sunday school lesson. However, she did pretty good at highlighting evil with the focus being on the concept and not so much the look of it which is an important life lesson. You'll realize why it won an award when you read it--it was written by someone who loves and honors literature and is a real wordsmith but has an envy toward the STEM group, not the other way around, so the sci-fi action thriller group might scoff a bit that it's heavier on meaning and classic quotes than aliens. My all-boy son loves it even though it might appeal more to girls. NEUTRAL: It's forward-thinking enough that you won't even realize you are in the 1960s. They insert some very old quotes in there--which is great for vocabulary but may also be frustrating to a young reader--we're used to the KJV Bible enough that my 9 year old got it, but I had to decode/reread the quote from Shakespeare for myself and not just my son to reveal the message. The perspective on faith is pretty average for the Western world with both praise for Christ but a more scientific/symbolic perspective which understandably has angered both athiests and Biblical literalists--however I feel it makes it more universally appealing in today's culture. It's anti-communist but also progressive--which won't please everyone but most people will relate to it. My son felt like there was too much of a cliffhanger at the end of the book, so we are going to continue to the next one, although I have doubts any sequel will live up to this. CONS: The boyfriend-girlfriend relationship happens a bit fast (thankfully nothing scandalous in it) but you can't really decide if this boy is a gentleman or is really rude with some of the things he says. The author makes a poorer big family with a stay-at-home mom look careless and abusive in nature compared to the smaller upperclass PhD family in a historic home constantly engaged in their chemistry sets and who have perfect looks (the mom is supposed to be a drop-dead gorgeous redhead) as idyllic--rather than a neutral less judgemental perspective like in Harry Potter where Hermione's family is different than Ron's but not necessarily better or worse. Characters that seem ideal turn out less than perfect which is fine for her younger brother since he's mortal and it's essential to the plot, but it feels like a betrayal seeing Mrs. Whatsit & Co. act the way they do later in the book since they are supposed to be on par with angels--why do they suddenly decide they are done with being maternal and go cold (don't worry not every character disappoints)? Also why is one of them a snob and another of them a thief??? We're told that the seemingly perfect boy is like the angel-creatures and yet he goes up to an adult and tries to kick and punch him. The main character acts very disrespectful and immature towards her father when she realizes he is not perfect. Normally with this much disrespect and rudeness I probably would knock the quality down to a 3 but I felt like there's more focus on good and using your creativity/hard work to make things happen in this book. WARNING: I don't recommend reading the Newberry acceptance speech at the end of the book. Not only might it feel uncomfortable theologically to some, but she really disparages school assignments and writers that think through and try to pick the choice words. She tries to speak for all writers and say the best ones are just gifted and don't think, and pretty much bullies through her words any child that is struggling to write a story. It's also weird that she thinks the main character is more exemplary than she, to me the main character was relatable, but not exemplary. As long as you avoid that part, the book is good.

This title has:

Educational value
age 10+

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