With her mouse-brown hair, glasses and braces, her sliding grades, and her penchant for getting into scuffles at school, Meg feels like the odd person out in the Murray family. Her beautiful scientist mother manages a household of four children while carrying out experiments in the old dairy off the kitchen, her physicist father is a Ph.D. several times over, her ten-year old twin brothers, Dennys and Sandy, are popular athletes, and her five-year old brother, Charles Wallace, though he never speaks outside the family, is absolutely brilliant.
At school, teachers have expressed exasperation that parents so intelligent could produce a daughter so backward, the principal has warned her to face facts and focus on her school work, and fellow students whisper taunts about her “moron” baby brother, and her absent father. Gone for several years on a top-secret government project, Dr. Murray’s letters came regularly at first, but no one has heard from him in over a year. Though her mother has tried contacting the government agency her husband works for, and even travelled to Washington, she does not know where Dr. Murray is, or when he is expected to return. Neighbours have begun to whisper that Dr. Murray has run away with another woman, and abandoned his family.
School children and those same neighbours also gossip about five-year old Charles Wallace, who never talks. When they call him a moron, Meg reacts in anger, often getting into altercations with classmates. Meg’s mother thinks that the little boy might be more than just brilliant; she believes he may be different, something beyond merely human. He possesses the uncanny ability to read Meg’s, and his mother’s, feelings, and seems to understand things that ought to be unknowable.
When three odd elderly women break into a nearby abandoned house, Charles Wallace befriends them, and takes Meg to meet them. Also drawn to the old house is Calvin O’Keefe, a fourteen-year old boy, whose athletic prowess hides a keenly intelligent and inquiring mind. Charles Wallace judges Calvin to be acceptable, and introduces him to Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. He then invites Calvin home to dinner at the Murray house, where the boy becomes captivated by the Murray family, and by Meg, in particular.
After dinner, Calvin and Meg go for a walk, and are soon joined by Charles Wallace, who announces that it’s time to go. When Meg asks where they are going, he replies that he doesn’t know where, but that they are going to find Dr. Murray. The arrival of the three Mrs. W signals the beginning of an adventure that will take Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace far across the universe to visit distant worlds in search of Meg’s father, and to struggle against the Darkness, the black shadow of evil that threatens many planets, including Earth.
First published in 1962, and winner of the Newbery Award, A Wrinkle in Time has become a classic of children’s literature.