Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Our Town” as Want to Read:
Our Town
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Our Town

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  46,171 ratings  ·  1,806 reviews
Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play. ...more
Paperback, 181 pages
Published September 23rd 2003 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1938)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Hamlet by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeMacbeth by William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareWaiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Best Plays Ever
788 books — 1,179 voters
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsDeath of a Salesman by Arthur  MillerThe Crucible by Arthur  MillerWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward AlbeeThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Best American Plays
243 books — 458 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  46,171 ratings  ·  1,806 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Our Town
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
*Read for class*
I enjoyed this WAY more than I thought I would. I expected it to just be boring Americana which is totally not my thing but the last act just totally blew me away. It was profound and thoughtful and terrifyingly accurate, but very well done.
Bill Kerwin
Aug 04, 2007 rated it really liked it

"So all that was going on and we never noticed...Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute?”
To answer poor dead Emily's question: I know I don't. Especially not today. Not on this Fourth of July.

Most Independence Days I think about hot dogs, potato salad, Souza, and fireworks. And maybe--for a brief moment—about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This year, though, I am thinking about ever
“Does anybody realize what life is while they're living it -- every, every minute?”
― Thornton Wilder, Our Town


It's been years perhaps a decade or more since I last read OUR TOWN. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is. It is easy to see why this is one of the heavy hitters of the American Theatre. Our Town has been called "Wilder's hymn to ordinary lives," and so it is. 81 years later this powerful piece of theatre has lost none of it's charm.


In OUR TOWN, Wilder expertly explores the beauty and sor
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
American playwriting at its best. I think the most stunning thing is that this book manages to convey a deep sense of human tragedy without portraying people who rabidly abuse each other. This is also why many hack directors (not to mention high schools) have been able to produce the work as a saccharine fairytale, and the bad reputation of this play can certainly be attributed to these careless people. But you, my dear critical thinker--you should read this.

"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? ---every, every minute?"

First published in 1938, OUR TOWN is a play by Thornton Wilder that delivers a hauntingly REAL look at life....and death....and love.

ACT I begins on May 7, 1901 in the small town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. It is a nice town with a nice mix of people. Some are gossips, some have addictions and others have little disagreements and problems like mos

Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, plays
Thornton Wilder’s iconic depiction of life in an American small town circa 1920. Act One is centered around the mundane, everyday occurrences of life...getting breakfast with the family, doing homework, milk deliveries, newspaper boys tossing the daily read onto the doorstep. Act Two marks an important cornerstone of small town life--a wedding. And, Act Three brings all this living into focus in a poignant way.

What makes reading this all the more moving, is that the way of life described has al
Winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Occasionally a book comes along that makes me say, now this is why I read. Thornton Wilder was perfect when he wrote this and the result was perfection. "Our Town" struck every chord just right for me. I grew up near a small town on a farm and I recognized this town, and I recognized these people. Through the first two acts of this play I was loving it and thinking, this is the Americana that is fast disappearing, maybe already has. Then act 3 knocked
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I appreciate this play more and more every time I read it, and I have read it quite a bit! It has been written that Thornton Wilder found "the cosmic in the commonplace" in "Our Town", and that is indeed the case. This play is a celebration of the everyday and mundane details of human existence. And although we like to imagine that our lives are composed of things larger than the everyday exercise of living, we are wrong. There are exciting and "big" moments in most lives, but that is the rarer ...more
Amber Tucker
Okay, first of all – because people will criticize me for it, and rightly so – I have not seen this play. I fully appreciate that plays are written in order to be viewed on stage, not on page, and that people who judge a play after merely reading it are probably the bane of a playwright's life. That said, I feel that if there's any play that's could be "seen" just as well in the mind of the reader, it's Our Town.. From the setting to the plot to the characters' actions, the entire thing is almo ...more
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Goodbye, Grover’s Corners

I saw a really terrible movie this weekend called "Stardust". I thought that it would be terrific since the cast is star-studded and mostly because it was based on a novel by the very clever Neil Gaiman (who I am a big fan of, Sandman, American Gods, Good Omens & the "Brakiri Day of the Dead" episode of Babylon 5 for fans in the know). But alas, the movie sucked (although Deniro was funny. Yarg!!).

But the movie also stars Claire Daines who I used to be a big fan of in th
Mohamed Khaled Sherif

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every.. every minute?

Reading this play for the first time when I was in (then equivalent of) junior high was like discovering someone who had been reading my thoughts—or anyway could make sense of them. I remember going from ‘A-ha!’ to ‘Oh yes!’ all throughout until I got to the last act and Emily’s return to her family home on her 12th birthday. Then with tears streaming down my face I imagined myself saying the same words to my own mother, “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me,” and lat ...more
Peter Monn
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved it! My full review will be up on my booktube channel at ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bettie by: A Cold War by Alan Russell

Description: Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.

Our Town is a 1940 film adaptation of a play of the same name by Thornton Wilder starring William Holden, Martha Scott, Fay Bainter, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee and Frank Craven. It wa
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. A pure joy to read. Now I would like to see it performed.
Apr 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: drama
A timeless masterpiece!This is absolutely my favorite play. It is timeless and universal, pertaining to anyone, anywhere. The story takes place in a small town at the turn of the century, in 1901, and takes place over the course of about fourteen years. The story line is extremely simplistic, but allows the reader to focus on the deeper themes that author, Thorton Wilder, is able to display. The play has three acts that each represent daily life, love and marriage, and death. Living people are p ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
It’s a regular little town in the US a hundred years ago. It’s an extraordinary little town in the US a hundred years ago. It’s very ordinariness makes it extraordinary. As is, Wilder hints, all life. To walk. To talk. To eat. To drink. And, perhaps most of all, sharing this amazing life with others. Read this play and you will remember to be alive. To everything.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Read this for my English class, very different play with a great message!
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
The Ghosts of Belfast review, Part IV
Part I
Part II
Part III

The Troubles, continued
(view spoiler)
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it
It seems a near impossibility that anyone could make it to AARP status without having seen or read this play. But I managed. Three simple, spare acts in which little happens and in which all of life happens. I also understand how this is viewed as both saccharin and profound by different people. The message is that life is precious and fragile, that most of us miss its beauty because we fail to savor the ordinary moments of joy and love and kindness. I found the saddest part of the play was the ...more
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, pulitzer
Our Town is a short powerful play by Thornton Wilder. It portrays our environment, lives, and death within the very few pages. The story is so vivid, it draws one into the town, and the lives of the characters. It is historical and philosophical. But what amazes me most is the realistic view of our lives that is encompassed.

Emily symbolizes life, marriage, and death. In life, she is almost always with his friend and neighbor George Gibbs. Marriage comes to her without any training. She is force
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
The characters are ordinary.
The story is ordinary.
The happenstances are ordinary.
The life-love-marriage-death, is ordinary.
The life of Grover Corners is ordinary.
The setting is ordinary.


Thronton Wilder snatches these mundane moments from our lives and puts them on his stage: raw, exposed and vulnerable for all to see. An ambition to change the way of life dances in the eyes of a young man, a young woman adores the moon and romanticizes a future, an elderly couple pass into quietness
Michael Perkins
This story takes place in a small, New Hampshire town, like the one I was born in and lived in for a time, with it's "New England Yankee" values. As with the case with people everywhere, there's tragedy in this story, which is often over-looked; instead, as one reviewer below puts it, it's often staged as a saccharine fairy-tale. This has been reinforced by the 1940 film version, starring William Holden.

But in Wilder's own "Some Suggestions for the Director,” he writes, “It is important to maint
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book too many times to count. It is amazingly ageless and speaks to each generation. I was priviledged to see Paul Newman open as the Stage Manager on opening night in Wesport,CT. I read quotes from it at my younger sister's funeral. I carries a lot of weight with me. Read the book before you ever see a high school production! ...more
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Brilliant allegory, but needs to be seen.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is perhaps silly to say that Our Town is underrated but that is how I feel. I found it unexpectedly profound. Setting the last act in a cemetery with the deceased people commentating was original and unexpected. It would be hard to dismiss Emily’s feelings in that last act.

The characters in Our Town are simple small town folk with real aspirations and real problems, so it all seemed authentic. From the milkman to discussion about who was inheriting the farm I could relate. In my own town grow
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, plays
I remember reading this back in high school, and at that time I thought this was one of the most boring things I ever read. However, in rereading this as an adult I discovered that there is something to appreciate in this play. The basic message of this play is that life is made up of a lot of mundane everyday activities, and that we often don't appreciate these experiences until it's too late. That's not really a message that can reach younger people who are chasing dreams and looking for adven ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Our Town feels like a play that could be elevated into something special with the right production, but just in terms of what Wilder wrote it isn't very good. To call it nuanced I think you have to grasp at thin straws, and to call it insightful I think you have to be satisfied with boring insights. What character of real depth is there in Our Town? What change does it push for beyond the platitude of "treasure every day?" What virtues does this play have, that are not better exemplified in play ...more
Maryam Rajee
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
"Mother Gibbs, I never realized before how troubled and how ... how in dark live persons are." ...more
Erin Kelly
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reread with my English I class. I played the Stage Manager in class and sobbed like a baby through the flashback scene. Need I say more? This is amazing and changes my perspective a little bit every time I read it. A book or play that can do that is truly something special. Seize the day!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
AP Language SHS: Reagan Sweat Summer Reading 1 2 Sep 29, 2017 07:28PM  
USA Geography Cha...: Our Town by Thorton Wilder 1 4 Dec 29, 2014 06:28AM  
life, love,and death 2 9 Sep 23, 2014 05:10PM  
Can't we just look at each other? 1 24 Jun 19, 2014 03:51AM  
Our Town analysis, themes, trivia, audio, video 2 37 Mar 21, 2013 01:35PM  
Hollinger: 1 Spri...: Question Set #2 6 21 Jan 26, 2012 02:30PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Glass Menagerie
  • Long Day's Journey into Night
  • The Adding Machine
  • Death of a Salesman
  • The Little Foxes
  • The Children's Hour
  • Desire Under the Elms
  • Waiting for Lefty
  • A Raisin in the Sun
  • The Zoo Story
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • What Price Glory?
  • The Crucible
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Proof
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • You Can't Take it With You
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.

For more see

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
9 likes · 0 comments
“Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.” 1564 likes
“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.” 175 likes
More quotes…