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Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults
     

Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults

4.3 6
by Jessica Pan, Rachel Kapelke-Dale
 

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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

Overview

 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/21/2014
In 2007, with degrees from Brown in hand, good friends Pan and Kapelke-Dale decide to travel and commit to send each other lively, funny weekly emails about their highs and lows during their three years of globe-trotting. Pan jets off to China, making Beijing her new home where she intends to learn Mandarin and get a toehold in journalism. She fumbles her way through romances as well as well as jobs, and tries to figure out a culture where Facebook and YouTube are banned. Pan conveys everything honestly, despite knowing the government is reading her emails. Kapelke-Dale lands in New York and also grapples with being out of the cocoon of college, encountering a terrible boss and an even worse potential boyfriend who takes her pulse after sex to see if she had faked her enthusiasm. Similarly, she doesn't hold back as she experiences newfound panic attacks and gets help via a therapist. Although the authors don't go into great detail about the origins of their relationship or how they decided to embark on their correspondence pledge, the tight and supportive bond of their female friendship comes through. Agent: Allison Hunter, Inkwell Management. (June)
From the Publisher
One of Jennifer Weiner's Ten Best Beach Reads
—USA Weekend

"This book will take me back to those days when everything was possible"
—Jennifer Weiner, author of All Fall Down

"Totally addictive"
BUST

"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."
—Refinery29

"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"
—The Hairpin

"Life is hard after graduation. These two BFFs get it"
—Cosmopolitan

"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

Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-18
Two best friends and fellow Brown University graduates deliver a candid epistolary account of their postgrad adventures "down the rabbit hole" of the real world. Just before BFFs Pan and Kapelke-Dale graduated from college, they made a pact to stay in touch via email and give each other all the details of their post-collegiate lives. Jobless but hopeful, Pan went to Beijing to have an adventure and learn Mandarin. In the meantime, Kapelke-Dale began working for a narcissistic art gallery owner in Manhattan since New York City was "just where you were supposed to go after college." Excited and intimidated by adulthood and also deeply uncertain about their futures, both young women fumbled through their lives. After a stint as an underpaid peon in a Chinese PR firm, Pan found work as an editor at a Beijing magazine for English-speaking expatriates. In New York, Kapelke-Dale moved into a better job at a nonprofit art gallery, but that soon became a dead end. As Pan navigated the tricky realm of love and sex with colleagues, Kapelke-Dale tried to work through unresolved romantic issues with old flames. Pan's path led her to a charming Englishman and a life "ultimatum": commitment or footloose singledom. For her friend, the choice boiled down to facing her fears and taking a risk to leave NYC for life and graduate study abroad in France and then England. Told in two genuinely winning voices, the book presents a unique view of what it means to come of age as educated females in the chaos of a modern transnational world. Young women just starting out on their own "adventures in wonderland" will find it especially appealing. At the same time, however, older women may also enjoy the way this narrative celebrates the sustaining power of committed woman-to-woman friendship. A female buddy book with intergenerational appeal.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592408603
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/06/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
210,320
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
One of Jennifer Weiner's Ten Best Beach Reads
USA Weekend

"This book will take me back to those days when everything was possible"
—Jennifer Weiner, author of All Fall Down

"Totally addictive"
BUST

"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."
—Refinery29

"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"
—The Hairpin

"Life is hard after graduation. These two BFFs get it"
—Cosmopolitan

"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

Meet the Author

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 HairpinThe 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, Refinery29ThoughtCatalog, Huffington Post, AOL Travel and The Frisky.

Both authors live in London.

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Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!  The friendship between Rachel and Jess is so strong, in fact they can tell each other anything without  being judged by the other. I read the book while on a road trip and I found the time just to fly by!   Very honest, funny and at time tears, believe me you won't be able to put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book should be considered MANDATORY reading for all 20-somethings and post-grads. As someone who is trying to figure out those post college years I related a lot to the voices of Jessica and Rachel. Jessica and Rachel are best friends from college and on the night of their graduation they make a pact to send an e-mail to each other once a week of a no-holds barred account of what's going on in their life. (I wish I would of thought of the same-thing when I graduated in college.) Jess takes off for Beijing and Rachel sets off to NY. Jess doesn't speak Mandarin or have a job but flies off to Beijing anyway. Rachel has a job at an art gallery in NYC. The adventures they get into, their jobs, the people they run into along the way really paint the picture of two 20-something girls finding their way in this world. They both are incredibly courageous and take incredible risks that I think at the time they didn't realize the enormity of those decisions. I don't want to spoil anything but you will laugh and cry in the best possibly way.It really is incredible considering the fact that they both lived so far away from each other for so long such as Jessica in China and Australia and Rachel in NYC and Paris that they were really able to maintain the closeness that they had in college. Over a 5-year span theses BFF's only saw each other twice. In there ever changing world of relocations, new jobs, grad schools, and boyfriends their friendship remained constant. I truly believe it is so important to maintain friendships because there are very few people in this world who know you they way your college friends do. There is nothing else like this book on the market. While growing up you always have a plan. For example, you go to high school and then you go to college and there's a lot of preparation that goes into the transition from high school senior to college freshman. But where is that preparation from college senior to post-grad? There really isn't any. This is the first time in our young adult lives where we have no idea what's next for us? It's a little terrifying and exciting all at the same time. Rachel and Jess capture these moments beautifully. I LOVE this book so much that I'm actually thinking about reading it again as I write this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! Very well written and an exciting story of rich friendship and living in different parts of the world. I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read - very funny and bitingly honest. It's extremely well written and captures both life in the early-to-mid twenties and the dreams of adventure that lead anyone to hop on a plane and explore exotic lands far from home. The friendship between these two promising young authors also jumps off the page - it's pure reading joy. It's incredibly honest and touching too, a real life snapshot of these two young lives unravelling over a few years and many countries as they figure out what they want to do and where and with who they want to be. I highly recommend!