Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dandelion Wine

Well, yesterday's post was a bit of a bummer, wasn't it?  Sorry about that, dear readers.  But you come to Betsy Transatlantically for snippets of me, and my life - much like yours, I'd imagine - isn't constantly rainbows and unicorns.

The thing is, though, that we don't have to be in sunshine all the time.  There's nothing wrong with a bit of a wallow, as long as you stand up at the end of it, brush off the seat off your pants, and move forward.

I want to tell you about a book I've read and reread a dozen times already this summer: Dandelion Wine.  It was assigned to us in seventh grade English class and I've picked it up a handful of times since then, but the author died earlier this summer and so I reached for it again to honor his memory.

I haven't put it down.

There are some books that you read as a child and rediscover later in life, when the writing reveals itself to you in exciting ways you never before understood; the Narnia series, for instance, and almost anything by Roald Dahl.  Dandelion Wine is one of those for me, and reclaiming my old copy, battered from 13 years of moving from one bookshelf to another and scored by childishly deliberate marginalia as well as more recent underlining and added exclamation points, has been revelatory.

It's the story of a summer - the summer of 1928 - in a small town in Illinois.  We explore the magic of those fleeting months through all the residents , especially alongside Doug and Tom, brothers, who discover in that season that they're alive.

I read a beautiful exchange in the book yesterday that I'd never really noticed before.  It was exactly what I needed:

"Tom, answer me true, now."
"Answer what true?"
"What ever happened to happy endings?"
"They got them on shows at Saturday matinees."
"Sure, but what about life?"
"All I know is I feel good going to bed nights, Doug.  That's a  happy ending once a day.  Next morning I'm up and maybe things go bad.  But all I got to do is remember that I'm going to bed that night and just lying there a while makes everything okay."

So to you, dear readers, I wish happy endings at the close of every day, and more often, too, if you can find them.


  1. A long time ago(maybe 7th grade as well?) I read an except of this novel, you've made me add it to my library request queue. Certainly an insightful sentiment!

  2. Ok, I'll admit that I totally thought this was a post about booze at first. I never read the book (yay for the 49th best public school system in the US!). I love the exchange you posted - that's a good one to file in the brain for a rainy day. Thanks, lady!

  3. I remember that book! I really liked it. I love rereading books from school. I feel like we can appreciate them so much more now!


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