The book is centered upon the Murray family, whose members are all awesome and nerdy. There’s Meg, who is a misfit and doesn’t do well at school because she thinks differently than other people. Charles Wallace is a child genius who didn’t talk until he was four, but at five speaks like an eloquent adult. Mr. and Mrs. Murray both have several PHDs. I am jealous of their PHDs. I’ll be lucky if I ever get one!
Mr. Murry disappears while working on a government project called a tesseract, which involves the fourth dimension. Meg and Charles Wallace meet up with three angel-like beings who help them in their quest to find their father. On the way, it is revealed that there is a dark mass centered over their universe, and that various historical figures were fighters against this darkness. The kids travel to a creepy planet called Camazotz, where all people share one consciousness in the attempt to be perfect. On Camazotz, citizens have no free will. Mr. Murray is being held captive because he refuses to submit to the conditioning that would make him a part of the Camazotz collective.
The book really does tackle a lot of deep issues, especially since it’s meant for kids. There is a theological element that kind of reminds me of C.S. Lewis, with very clear elements of good versus evil. At the same time, something I loved was the way that L’Engle manages to present both religion and science in such a way that the two don’t contradict each other. I was impressed that although L’Engle is Christian, she counts major figures (ie. Buddha) as people who were major fighters against the darkness. Even though L’Engle writes for a younger audience, she doesn’t dumb herself down, but instead assumes that her audience is intelligent and capable of thought.