When you break it down to it’s basic parts, it doesn’t look like this story could possibly work. And yet, somehow, it does. Not perfectly or without some name-related confusion. But what it sometimes lacks in clear logical progression it makes up for in sheer wonderment, empathy-building, and that Murry family bond which readers have—by this point—come to know and love.
In the first book of this series, the focus was on travel through outer space. The second book centered on traveling through inner-space. And this, the third book, revolves around the space-time continuum. There’s a bit of space travel in this one as well, as we take a little detour to the Unicorn homeworld… (yes, I just wrote that.) The entire story takes place over the course of a day, but spans hundreds of fictional years and many generations.
L’Engle’s writing shows a growth in complexity within this book that makes it stand out a bit above the first two books, in this reader’s opinion. As ever, her style is perplexing yet somehow lovely. And the emotional depth she achieves by giving us a glimpse into Mrs. O’Keefe’s background is absolutely moving. (I’d thought I was quite content in not liking that woman. But the author didn’t allow her to continue on as a one-note side character, and I love her for that.)
I keep seeing reviewers raging at the fact that Meg is pregnant in this book, seeming to resent her biological state and claiming she “doesn’t do anything” in this story. Sorry, (not sorry) but I call malarkey on that assertion. Yes, she’s now married to Calvin and a bit encumbered by being late-term preggers. Yet, it’s that very condition that makes her an ideal candidate for telepathically aiding Charles Wallace in the general save-the-world endeavors. The premise of this book is all about protecting the future by going back and repairing a past that has been sabotaged. It’s about legacy and lineage. And it effectively drives the stakes higher to be constantly aware that it’s not just the entire impersonal world population that’s theoretically in peril—it’s our brilliant beloved Meg, and the unborn baby she may never get a chance to meet.
(Also, Meg has been the main active character for the first two books. The girl deserves a break. And considering he’s now 15, Charles Wallace certainly deserves his own coming-of-age opportunity.)
So far, this has been my favorite book in this fantasy/sci-fi series.