Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time

“No, Meg. Don’t hope it was a dream. I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”

I never read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle while growing up. I wasn’t big into fantasy so it completely slipped by me. I don’t think I ever properly heard of until I was an adult.

My point is that I am kind of sad I didn’t read it as a child because I kind of love it a lot. A LOT.

The basic story is that Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and a classmate named Calvin go on a search through time and space to bring Meg and Charles Wallace’s missing father home.

But it is so much more than that. So much more.

It’s hard to talk about what happens in the book because I don’t want to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Plus, I think it can be read in several different and unique ways depending on individual experience, so I’ll just say I loved the focus on strengths and faults of the characters, the use of mystical/alien beings, the way the story seems to be resolved when it isn’t yet the real resolution is heartbreaking and positively optimistic all at once. And that love conquers all, the end.

I was surprised by how overtly Christian the book is, especially because it still manages to be such an effective allegory.

I also love that the book is pro-individuality, Christian positive, and anti-censorship all at once. It manages to be realistic fiction, science fiction, fantasy, dystopic fiction. L’Engle just does so much and does it all so well. It’s kind of amazing.

This, THIS is the kind of book that makes me want to be a writer.

Two things I didn’t like:  I hate that the one brother’s name is Dennys, which is another spelling of Dennis, because I kept pronouncing it Denny’s in my head. Also, the main baddie is named IT (it), but because it’s 2010, I kept reading it as I.T. as in IT support.

But, really, those are nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Awesome book.  Absolutely awesome.

YA Reading Challenge: 22/75

Book Review: Diary of a Fairy Godmother

Mama took the lead and went on about how I’m first in charm school and how “she’ll be the wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow.” Doesn’t Mama know it’s bad luck to brag?

Diary of a Fairy GodmotherOh, and what bad luck it is. Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esmé Raji Codell is about Hunky Dory, a witch who is studying wickedness but ends up wanting to go the other way and become a dreaded F. G. Fairy godmother, that is.

What I Liked

– The book is very clever. The idea of being a wicked witch as a family career path that is desired is great. The use of familiar fairytales to explore the other sides of the story–that of the bad guys–is well-handled.

– I loved the use of the textbook within the text, Be the One with the Wand. I especially loved the little life lessons it provides. Great info for any kid reading it. One of my favorites is “The first step to accomplishing amazing things is setting unrealistic goals.”

– The book is so female positive and independence positive. The focus is on the girls making life work for them and finding what they’re passionate about. They’re encouraged to be themselves, even if they go the absolute wrong way (like being a fairy godmother), but even then, there’s pride amongst the group that Hunky has the guts to do what she wants.

– Her Auntie is great. I don’t want to ruin the story, but…yeah. Great character.

– I like the way the romantic interest is handled.

What I Didn’t Like

– The book lacks some internal consistency. The rules of the world need more clarification. Otherwise, the book comes off as too clever for its own good. For example, rudeness and evilness are prized and despised at the same time.

– Nothing really happens. By which I mean, stuff happens, but it’s all mostly tell with no show so the story and characters feel flat.

– I would have liked to see the characters and their relationships (especially the ones Hunky has with her mother and Rumpelstiltskin) developed further.

In conclusion: Very cute and clever premise with an unfortunately flat execution. It’s just okay when it could have been great.