I could have sworn I read all the Newberry Book Award winning books as a child. Although maybe, come to think of it, I did read this and I am choosing to bury the unfortunately memory of it.
Okay, that was a little harsh. It wasn’t that bad, but it also wasn’t that good. I can’t say I’d recommend reading it to anyone over the age of 12 or so, but for those smart kids who are looking for something a little more “advanced”, this would be a great intorduction to some adult type content, in a pretty kid-like package.
This book strikes me as a cross between The Little Prince and A Prayer for Owen Meany, both personal favorites. The narrator’s little brother, and one of the main characters, Charles Wallace, was a less-developed and not as likeable Owen Meany (the main character in A Prayer for Owen Meany), and the premise of the story line was kind of heads-in-the-clouds a la The Little Prince. Or that’s my thought on it anyway.
There was also a little bit The Neverending Story going on, too. The Black Thing was eerily similar to the Nothing, both in its evilness, and in its nebulous nature. In each case, you’d be hard-pressed to explain what either of them “are”, if they are at all. Which doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the point, I suppose.
I won’t ruin the plot of the book for those that haven’t read it yet, but the basic story line incorporates time travel (super cool), family, longing, love, and hate, with a little bit of Big Brother/1984/dystopia thrown in for good measure. All in just over 200 pages. That’s a lot for a little book to boast, and I think that was the problem. Too much content in too little space = trying a bit too hard.
I’ve been let down by a childhood favorite before (the first was Bridge to Terabithia), which should come as no surprise. I guess I should take comfort knowing that my intellect has grown some since then; small comfort but comfort nonetheless. (I still laugh at fart jokes though.)