Graduates in Wonderland
The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
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Two best friends document their post-college lives in a hilarious, relatable, and powerfully honest epistolary memoir.
Fast friends since they met at Brown University during their freshman year, Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale vowed to keep in touch after their senior year through in-depth—and brutally honest—weekly e-mails. After graduation, Jess packs up everything she owns and moves to Beijing on a whim, while Rachel heads to New York to work for an art gallery and to figure out her love life. Each spends the next few years tumbling through adulthood and reinventing themselves in various countries, including France, China, and Australia. Through their messages from around the world, they swap tales of teaching classes of military men, running a magazine, and flirting in foreign languages, along with the hard stuff: from harrowing accidents to breakups and breakdowns.
Reminiscent of Sloan Crosley’s essays and Lena Dunham’s Girls, Graduates in Wonderland is an intimate, no-holds-barred portrait of two young women as they embark upon adulthood.
Jessica Pan has a BA in Psychology and Literary Arts from Brown University. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. She was the editor of a magazine and a TV reporter in Beijing and writes for The Hairpin, The Toast, Refinery29, Huffington Post, The Frisky and ELLE.com.
Rachel Kapelke-Dale is pursuing a PhD in cinematographic studies at University College London. She has a BA in History of Art and Architecture and Comparative Literature from Brown University and a master’s in Cinema Studies from the Université de Paris VII. She has written for VanityFair.com, Refinery29, ThoughtCatalog, Huffington Post, AOL Travel and The Frisky.
Both authors live in London.
One of Jennifer Weiner's Ten Best Beach Reads
"This book will take me back to those days when everything was possible"
—Jennifer Weiner, author of All Fall Down
"Graduates in Wonderland was a gem of a find. Reading through it (and it goes by fast) is a kind of hybrid between the most amazing nostalgia spiral and a very satisfying session of eavesdropping (extensively) on friendly strangers."
"The book is full of witty descriptions and cultural observations, capturing not just a picture of twentysomething life but also a sense of the time"
"Life is hard after graduation. These two BFFs get it"
"I loved Graduates in Wonderland. It made me nostalgic for the uncertainty and excitement and seemingly endless possibilities of the post-college years. The first thing I did after reading it was pour my heart out--via email, of course--to my best friend."
—Rachel Bertsche, New York Times bestselling author of MWF Seeking BFF
"I knew from page 8, on which one of the authors ends a letter with a piece of brutally honest advice about the other's crush, that I would love Graduates in Wonderland. Theirs is a best friendship I find as complex, challenging, and deeply intimate as my own—the type of dynamic, all-consuming female friendship story that is as common as it is under-told. Jess and Rachel are smart, funny, and wise, and it's a pleasure to be like a fly in their emails, if that were a thing."
—Katie Heaney, author of Never Have I Ever
"A charming epistolary tale of female friendship and early post-graduate life in all its exciting and confusing glory. Jess and Rachel’s adventures will be relatable to anyone who has ventured down that strange rabbit hole we call the 'real world' and wondered just how to find her way back out again in one successful, happy piece."
—Rachel Friedman, author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost
"Sounding, thinking, and talking exactly like your best friends, these girls dive headfirst into the humor and heartache of life after college. They kiss a lot of foreign frogs in a lot of foreign cities. And just when they think they are in danger of becoming real live adults, they prove themselves spectacularly wrong. And I love them for it."
—Jerramy Fine, author of Someday My Prince Will Come
"Gloriously addictive. This book is like catching up with your best friends over two-dollar tacos and margaritas, trying to convince each other to date this guy or travel or buy weirdo heels. I've been there, babes! The two authors have perfectly captured a time in your life where you have no footing and everything is utter chaos...but at least you have your buddies. A warm breath of both nostalgia and reality. The kind of writing you eat with a spoon. Funny and sweet and honest, like the best kinds of friendships. Will recommend to all my ladies."
—Alida Nugent, author of Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse
"Rachel and Jess have done an extraordinary job, in the creation of this book, of turning an epistolary life story into something richly tender, and genuinely suspenseful. The intimacy here, is not just between the writers, but with the readers. I've adventured forth now with Jess and Rachel, and I have returned with a warm, good feeling in my heart."
—Beth Kephart, author of Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir and Going Over