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Meg Murry is having trouble coping with her adolescence. She isn’t doing well in school (except in math). She is temperamental and hyper-sensitive. Her teeth have braces, her eyes have spectacles, and her hair just can’t be tamed; she has a hard time believing that she’ll ever take after her gorgeous, multiple-doctorate, experimental scientist mother. Teachers and other kids don’t know what to do with her. Meanwhile, her younger twin brothers are normal and popular. Her baby brother Charles Wallace is eerily gifted. And her father, last known to be working on a top-secret project for the government, hasn’t been heard from in years, and the word on the street is that he isn’t coming back.
Suddenly four remarkable individuals burst into Meg’s life, and things begin to change. First is the handsome, popular, red-headed athlete and top student from the wrong side of the tracks, Calvin O’Keefe, who instantly adopts Meg, Charles Wallace, and their mother like the family he has been waiting for all his life. Then come three very, very strange women–Mrs. Whatsit, who acts as though she isn’t accustomed to wearing a human form; Mrs. Who, who talks in quotations because she has trouble expressing herself verbally; and Mrs. Which, who is so far gone that she mostly just shimmers in midair, and whose voice sounds like a sound-effect that would cost loads of money in a Hollywood movie.
These three…I don’t know what they are!…beings send Calvin, Meg, and Charles Wallace on a hair-raising adventure through outer space, partly to rescue Mr. Murry, and partly to aid the resistance against the spreading Powers of Darkness. Using a mind-boggling fourth-dimension concept called a tesseract, they tackle a planet that has “given in,” where everyone’s mind and body is controlled by the horrible IT.
Here is a terrifying nightmare vision of a bureaucratic society (or perhaps a totalitarian one) run amok, where every cause of unhappiness has been surgically removed but the result is, no one is happy. It is a vision of how evil can deceive people who have good motives, and how the faults of very flawed people can become their redeeming traits. But it is also a lesson in how to love something totally alien, and how potent a weapon love can be, against the darkest evil.
This is the first book in the Time Quartet. It is also a winner of the annual Newbery Medal for distinction in American literature for children. And for good reason: your guts will love this book. And your brain will get a jolt out of it, too.