Finally—after a school year in which his feet were encased in blocks of ice and he had to walk uphill both ways, Douglas Spaulding is on summer vacation. Summer 1928 promises to be a good one, spent with his brother, his best friends, the residents of his grandparents' next-door boarding house, and the usual cast of characters that populate Green Town, Illinois. Time to make some dandelion wine with Grandpa, get some swanky new sneakers, and traipse around in the ravine to his heart's content.
But wait… this summer is, in fact, quite different from those that came before. Turns out that when he least expects it, Doug discovers he's Alive-with-a-capital-A. All of a sudden, he feels compelled not just to experience everything fully, but to record it in a notebook as well. That's a lot of responsibility when you're only twelve.
The problem with becoming aware of life is that it goes hand-in-hand with awareness of death. And there sure are a lot of people answering the bone phone in Green Town in the summer of 1928. Not only are the neighbors dropping like flies from natural causes, there's the added complication of a serial killer bumping folks off before their time.
Coma (And Not the Sci-Fi,
Hanging-From-the-Ceiling, Harvested-for-Organs Kind)
The problem with thinking about death all the time is that you may just make yourself, well, deathly ill—which is exactly what happens to Doug. He wakes up one late summer day with a fever so bad he's still in bed hallucinating come nighttime. Thankfully, the town junk man, Mr. Jonas, has just the thing: homemade "magic" potions to bring him back to (and help him appreciate) life.
Someone's In the Kitchen with Grandma
With a second chance at life and an overwhelming sense of gratitude, Doug's determined to pay back Mr. Jonas's kindness. He does so by thwarting his Aunt Rose's attempts to organize Grandma Spaulding's life and thus saving her cooking. Doug learns that happy endings are everywhere; you just have to create them for yourself.
Summer 1928 comes to a peaceful—some would say happy—ending, with the dandelion wine all bottled, the porch swing stored in the shed once gain, school supplies in shop windows, and Doug and Tom excited for a new academic year and the far-off prospect of summer 1929. We can only imagine how killer next year's model of Cream Sponge Para Litefoot sneakers is going to be.