Cultural Experience | All Experiences

Book Review-Graduates in Wonderland

If you’re looking for a great read about friendship and life after college, then Graduates in Wonderland is the book for you!

Written by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale, Graduates in Wonderland tells the story of two best friends as they learn to navigate life after graduation from Brown University. One travels to China while the other moves to New York.

The book is written in letter format as the authors share emails they sent to each other in their days apart. From new love interests to the struggle of finding a job, Pan and Kapelke-Dale take the reader on a journey. The reader feels as if they have known Pan and Kapelke-Dale their whole life based on the way the novel is written. When one girl has a fight with her room mate or the other girl is afraid of her new boss, the reader is a part of those experiences.

As a recent grad and a fan of travel, I really connected to this book. The two authors had both positive and negative experiences in their first years out of college, but overall, they are changed for the better. I felt happy for them when they were hired for a job and felt sad when a love story ended.

There wasn’t a quote in particular that stood out to me, simply because the entire book had so many similarities to my life. However, there was one particular email that resonated with me. The email from Jess to Rachel on October 24. Jess talks about how she got a new haircut with bangs and then goes to dinner with the guy she had decided she is in love with and he says that he hates bangs. It is then that Jess realizes that she was not in love with him, but that he is the type of person that makes everyone fall in love with him and she had mistaken their friendship for actual feelings. While Jess had this experience as a recent college grad, I had that same experience as a college freshman. The feeling of meeting new people and starting a new chapter in life was so clearly demonstrated in this email and I connected with it and reminisced about my own experience.

In that same email, Jess goes on to say that she is having trouble finding journalism jobs in China. She talks about how she thought that everything would fall into place once she was there and it wasn’t. This section reminded me of how quickly life can change and one moment, you think that you have a job or an opportunity and the next moment, you don’t. Having just entered the “real world” I totally understand what it is like to have an uncertain future. As recent graduates, we are used to the security of knowing that we have classes to go to and homework to do, but after graduation, all of that is gone.

The end of the email is when Jess tells Rachel that she has two interviews at PR agencies and is not sure what to wear for them. She says she has no idea what she is dong with her life. This reminded me of being back at school and going into my roommate’s room and asking if my outfit was ok for a presentation or for a luncheon or something. I also had a few of the “what-am-I-doing-with-my-life” moments during the last few weeks of school. I still have those now.

It is parts of the novel like these ones that make Graduates in Wonderland a fantastic novel. The way that Jess and Rachel write to each other make the reader feel as if the authors are writing to us. And while the authors did not know what they were doing at times, their lives turned out just fine. This book gives hope to those recent grads who feel as if their lives are full of chaos. After reading this book, I am not worried about finding a job because the right one will come. Instead, I’m going to enjoy the ride.

For those who are recently graduated or those who want to relive the nostalgia of the years after college, Graduates in Wonderland is the perfect book. Pan and Kapelke-Dale have woven together the perfect quilt of stories and conversations and I am so happy they decided to share them with the world. I will recommend this book to all of my friends…right after I send my best friends an email!

Want to read it for yourself?  Pick up a copy here.

Read another review of this book here.

Hayley Good

University of Indianapolis | 10 stories

Hayley is a Public Relations and Journalism major with a minor in Spanish at the University of Indianapolis. She is President of UIndy chapter of PRSSA as well as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Hayley is also a Team Captain for her university's swim team. She enjoys traveling, reading and making others laugh. Hayley is also a fan of Wicked the Musical and Taylor Swift. Follow her daily musings on Twitter: @Goodgirl1209 and on Instagram: @defygravity1209

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