Dina Sleiman’s debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion, is a beautifully-written tale of rebellion and redemption set in 14th-century Europe.
After a devastating famine, peasant Dandelion Dering fears going hungry again, and doesn’t believe God can be trusted to provide for her. While she loves and is loved by William, she plans to become a servant at the local castle, where food is abundant and a thrill of excitement perfumes the air. Little does she expect her choice will take her on a journey far from William, her family, and England…but never too far to escape the love and forgiveness offered by God.
Dandelion is easy to relate to: she’s loving and vibrant, but she’s utterly dissatisfied with her lot in life. When she repeatedly takes her future into her own hands, troubles tumble one after another onto her path. It takes years and a heap of heartache for her to accept God on His terms and live according to His will, not her own. But when she does begin to see God for who He is, the experience is profound, not a cheap, quick fix.
Readers should be aware that there are a few components in the book which may be considered edgy to a Christian market, including a strong sensual element—nothing gratuitous or erotic—but moms may wish to screen first. Personally, I found the references to sensual situations to be culturally realistic to both the medieval period and today. It might be worth reading the story with an older teenage daughter in order to discuss the temptations Dandelion allows herself to fall into, as well as the repercussions of her choices.
Sleiman’s well-crafted debut is quick-paced, well-researched, and lyrically written. Her message of God’s overwhelming grace is one of encouragement and power. Readers might recognize themselves in Dandelion, and learn a bit about their relationships with God, too.