Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Digital Audiobook narrated by Paul Michael Garcia
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc., Doubleday on January 1st, 1957
Series: Green Town #1
Genres: Bildungsroman, Classics, Fiction, Magical Realism, Short Stories, Young Adult
Length: 281 pages or 8 hours, 41 minutes
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The summer of '28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma's belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.
Ray Bradbury’s Green Town series feels like a poetic response to L. M. Mongomery’s Anne of Green Gables. They’re both beautiful, lyrical works of art, and they both wrap you up in stories of growing up and growing older. Both follow children through mundane, magical adventures. Both wrap you up inside them until you are hopelessly lost and enchanted.
Dandelion Wine has been on my TBR for years because of how iconic the sequel is – a few of you may be familiar with Something Wicked This Way Comes? I wasn’t sure what to expect – Something Wicked is introspective and spooky – it’s the original carnival story years and years before things like The Night Circus and Caraval. To my absolute delight, Dandelion Wine is in the same vein – featuring the same small town and the same writing style. It’s not about a traveling circus, but many similar themes are explored in both books.
For those looking for a solid start-to-finish plot, this book may be a little frustrating. You won’t see character arcs or massive action scenes the way we find in modern contemporaries. Instead, this book is made up of a couple dozen short stories about an adventurous, lazy summer in Green Town, Illinois. Each segment has it’s one message and perspective – most the stories are told from the POV of two boys (Douglas and Tom Spaulding) while other instrospectives are told by adults and the elderly. From the very first story of the book, you feel summer unrolling its petals like a lazy sunflower and blowing light and life into the season. Douglas himself says he has become aware of something new and incredible: he is alive.
It’s so easy for us to forget that sometimes.
And so Doug and his family begin to bottle summer in bottles of dandelion wine – each bottle become representative of something the town has experienced so when they are uncorked in the cold throes of winter, each person can remember the small adventures they have had.
Really, it’s a gripping story. On one hand, it’s a reminder to us to slow down and breathe in the joys of life and not let the days run together. On the other hand, Bradbury’s writing is so atmospheric that it swallows you whole, and you don’t want to live. I adored this book because I got lost in it. It’s dawdling, lazy, and perfect for these hot August afternoons.
Fans of Something Wicked This Way Comes should not miss Dandelion Wine, but this book is perfect for anyone who likes to breathe in the sweetness of our everyday lives. It’s historical fiction, philosophy, a little mystery, and bildungsroman. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who likes that slow easy pace and the lyrical nature of classic narrative.
Best advice? Read it on a hot, sunny day while sipping lemonade on your porch.