A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

B8907752-52E3-464B-9511-5AE9C5DB5DDAWould you believe me if I told you I never read A Wrinkle in Time as a child? Most people freak out and act as if I told them I’ve never had a sip of water. I don’t know. I guess it just never made its way into my hands. If you’re like me and have never read this book, and don’t know the story here is the gist of this classic children’s novel.

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. 

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

I have to be honest. The only reason I picked this book ups was because of the Ava DuVernay movie adaptation. This movie has a star studded cast, including Oprah. I just felt like I should read the book and then go see the movie.

I read the book. It was a book. There was so little that felt special or exciting to me about this story. The one thing I appreciated was the permission that was given to Meg, the young protagonist, to be her full self. She was encouraged to lean into her vices and trust her instincts. Empowering a young girl to be as moody, angry, and impatient as she wants is wonderful. We need more of that in the world. We should all give ourselves the freedom to feel our feelings fully, and to be where we are. There is no virtue without vice.

The rest I found to be mediocre at best. I didn’t really follow the science fiction parts. Ideas we just thrown out, but not worked through. The book builds toward a climatic ending, and then resolves itself in a about eight pages. There is a romance that is totally superfluous, especially in a children’s book.

The part of the book that I found to be the most off putting was the presence of a very pro-christian outlook. I know L’Engle was a Christian, and her believes of course informed her work. In this story, its seemed unnecessary. It didn’t add value or complexity, it just felt like an opportunity for proselytizing.

It is worth noting that the most powerful part of this book is its place in its own historical context. A sci-fi children’s book with a female protagonist and a woman author written in the 1960’s is so rare it is important by virtue of existing. That so many people, male and female, connected with it over the course of decades speaks to its power. That so many people found this profound in their own lives is meaningful. It is an important step for literature, a huge step in the “representation matters” movement. I do not want my personal opinion of the book to take anything away from what the book is, and what the books means.

I wonder if I had read this book as a child how I would connect to it. I wonder this often about books, not just children’s books. After reading a New York Times op-ed on the best ages to read certain books, I couldn’t agree more. We grow and we change and we develop, and so does our understanding of the world. It makes sense that I might not be able to suspend my disbelief in the same way a ten year old can. And that is okay.

If you are ten, or you have a child, especially a moody little girl, this book seems like it would be a hit! Its a classic for a reason, even if its not for me.

  • Hardcover : 216 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (January 1, 1962)
  • 2/5 stars
  • Buy A Wrinkle in Time on Amazon

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

E685FB9E-B8BD-4102-8343-3F3BD1CA6661I went into this book with high expectations. I had seen it all over the internet and some friends were excited about it, too. I purposely did not read anything about the book, and only knew what I gathered from #bookstagram posts. I knew it was a sci-fi book. I knew it was “mind-blowing”. For those of you who aren’t super familiar with this book, here is a little more about it:

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

If we’re being honest, even that blurb doesn’t tell you much about the book. The main thing this book has going for it, is suspense. For the majority of the book you have no clue where its going, and what is coming next. You root for Jason to find out whats going on, and you keep rooting for him as the book unfolds. Sure. The book moves fast enough that you don’t even really have time to decide if you care about Jason. Which, by the end I discovered, I didn’t. I did however want the book to be over, with about 75 pages left. I didn’t care how it ended, I just wanted to know how it ended.

I found this book to be cheap and easy. The writing style is so simple, Crouch barely forms complete sentences. I paused my reading a quarter of the way through to see if this book was Young Adult, because it lacked so much nuance (which I don’t mean as a dig at YA, since some YA books are amazing and subtle). Crouch shies away from developing any of the characters, aside from perhaps Jason. He fares the best, which is good for the reader, since we’re stuck with him the whole time.

Another let down in this book was that it just wasn’t original. Sure this exact story has never been told, but the idea that the choices we make could change our whole trajectory is as old as regret itself. Movies like Sliding Doors or Groundhog Day could fit into this genre. There was a lack of specificity in this book, so the characters and story fell flat. It seemed like a prototype of a genre, verses an actual novel.

I know that I am an outlier on this book and lots of people loved this one. So you might like it too. Its an easy read, and its clever in theory. If you enjoy a light suspenseful book, this could work for you. If you’ve read this one, I’d love to hear what you thought in the comments below.

  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books (August 24, 2017)
  • 2/5 stars
  • Buy Dark Matter on Amazon

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Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden

24576BC9-7AA9-4F0A-9BF7-B97FAC7376BA.JPGI’m a few weeks away from my first trip to Colombia. I am super excited about this trip and wanted to read up a little on the country and its history. There is no more famous Colombian than Pablo Escobar, so I thought this book would be a good place to start.

Here is a little more on this book

A tour de force of investigative journalism- Killing Pablo is the story of the violent rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel. Escobar’s criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostage in a reign of terror that would only end with his death. In an intense, up-close account, award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes details never before revealed about the U.S.-led covert sixteen-month manhunt. With unprecedented access to important players—including Colombian president Ceasr Gaviria and the incorruptible head of the special police unit that pursued Escobar, Colonel Hugo Martinez-as well as top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar’s intercepted phone conversations, Bowden has produced a gripping narrative that is a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world

This book is a very straight forward look at the manhunt for Pablo Escobar. Bowden has zeroed in on a very short time period for the majority of the book, 1989-1993, and is looking at the downfall of Escobar and the different groups and individuals that made his assassination possible.

The book is dealing with very complex issues, however Bowden barely skims the surface of the contradictions and hypocrisies that are throughout this book. While Escobar was no doubt a villian and a terrorist, the same can be said of the actions by both the US and Colombian governments, something Bowden glosses over.

The book is jammed packed with facts and details about the process of finding and killing Escobar, Bowden does little analysis of this information. It is as if he is relying on the sheer amount of detail to hide from having to grapple with the problematic elements of this story. There are issues at play, related to race and world policing, that would have added a nice layer to this book. Instead, this book feels as if it barely scratches the surface of all that could be said. Killing Pablo is an in depth and well researched look at exactly what happened, it does not go into detail about the much more interesting, why, and how it continues to happen.

If you’re a fan of The Narcos  Series, you may enjoy this book. The show uses this book as some of its main source materials. However I feel that the show is more exciting and engaging than I found this book. It is also worth reading if you are interested in Colombia, mostly to get a sense of how their government functioned in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

If you do pick it up, let me know what you think in the comments.

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (July 14, 2015)
  • 2/5 stars
  • Buy Killing Pablo on Amazon

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Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot


As a San Francisco Bay Area native, I’m a little embarrassed to say I’d never heard of this book. However once it was brought to my attention it moved to the top of my TBR list immediately. If you’re unfamiliar with this book, here’s a little blurb for you,

In a kaleidoscopic narrative, bestselling David Talbot recounts the gripping story of San Francisco in the turbulent years between 1967 & 1982—& of the extraordinary persons who led to the city’s ultimate rebirth & triumph.

This book attempts to discuss and explain some of San Francisco’s (and the country’s) most important people and well known incidents. While Talbot does manage to cover a lot of ground, from Janis Joplin to Jonestown, from Patty Hearst to Harvey Milk and beyond, he is unable to dive into the complexity and nuance that is required to chronicle such important figures and moments.

A lot of the sections of this book fall short. Not only because Talbot doesn’t have enough time or space to give detailed and analytic explanations, that moments like the start of the AIDS epidemic deserves, but more so because his tone is glib and condescending and he often misses the point. When discussing the AIDS crisis at the end of the book, he uses it as a catalyst for The City’s deliverance from the rocky decade preceding. This is dumb. This is also truly offensive considering how many people died.

Talbot has his opinions, and his puns, and his glibness that carry him through this book. His best decision was picking this era filled with interest and intrigue to carry the reader through. I found a lot of Talbot’s point of view and word choice to be off-putting. It was almost as if he was joking around with a pal, instead of documenting a major U.S. city during a tumultuous era.

The part of this book that is most enjoyable is chronicling all of the events and iconic moments that took place in such a short period of time in one city. San Francisco has lived many lives, and if you’re not familiar with late 1960’s to the early 1980’s, this is a great book for you. You will have to ignore some of Talbot’s bad behavior. Which is actually easier than you would think given the subject matter.  

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here