( 4 )


She’s back. Jude’s childhood friend — sexy, daring Stella— returns to their stifling hometown, and life will never be the same again.

Sixteen-year-old Jude has to get out of tiny Churchtown. She has to escape her outcast status and her pathetic dad, who hasn’t gotten past her mother’s death. The one bright light is drama, her way out, if only she can get into the Lab, a prestigious program in London. Then Stella, Jude’s childhood best friend, swaggers in after years away. With ...

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She’s back. Jude’s childhood friend — sexy, daring Stella— returns to their stifling hometown, and life will never be the same again.

Sixteen-year-old Jude has to get out of tiny Churchtown. She has to escape her outcast status and her pathetic dad, who hasn’t gotten past her mother’s death. The one bright light is drama, her way out, if only she can get into the Lab, a prestigious program in London. Then Stella, Jude’s childhood best friend, swaggers in after years away. With bold and magnetic Stella by her side, Jude knows she’s capable of anything. But Stella’s influence extends well beyond the theater. Soon Stella’s wild and dangerous streak begins to cause trouble for Jude — yet Jude can’t bring herself to abandon Stella and the attention she’s always craved. And besides, now that Stella’s back, there’s no stopping her. In Jude’s dark and tangled story, British author Joanna Nadin plumbs the aftermath of loss and the consequences of becoming the person you always wished you were.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Jude. Named after a song in the hope that I'd stand out and shine. But I didn't. Jude the Invisible. Jude the Obscure." British author Nadin's wrenching U.S. debut centers on 16-year-old Jude, a talented actress who feels outcast, alone, and out of place at school and at home, where the presence of her vibrant mother still lingers years after her death. Jude longs for the return of her brash childhood friend, Stella, and soon after, Stella pops back into Jude's life, helping Jude regain her confidence—even taking her place at a crucial acting audition—but also leading her down a path of self-destructive behavior. Observant readers will pick up clues in Nadin's prose that hint at the book's twist ending, but the author skillfully keeps the conclusion from feeling foregone, even with an opening scene that has Jude and Stella in a car about to head over a cliff. Indeed, even those who figure out Stella's secret before Jude does won't be disappointed in their final confrontation, and many will want to reread the book armed with their new knowledge. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Stephanie R. Pearmain
Jude is a sixteen-year-old girl living with her father and younger brother in Churchtown, a tiny town in England where everyone knows everyone. Jude is an outcast unlike her mother who, before her death, was a beautiful model/actress from London. Jude has a strained relationship with her father and they are unable to talk about the pain and loss caused by her mother's death. Jude wants to be an actress but she lacks the self confidence that she imagines her mother once had. The only time Jude feels any sense of self worth is when her rebellious, sexually promiscuous, beautiful, and bold friend Stella comes around. At the beginning of the book, Stella has been away for a period of time and Jude has missed her terribly. Under Stella's influence Jude stands up to the people who shun her, she drinks and flirts with boys, and she gains the courage to stand up to her father, demanding that he let her go to London to audition at a prestigious school. Jude drinks too much to audition so Stella (who Jude now looks like because Stella has bleached her hair blond so they look the same) does the audition for her. When the letter comes from London announcing Jude's acceptance, she is confused to find a picture of herself instead of Stella who actually did the audition. The story is slow moving at first and Jude's heavy dependence on Stella makes Jude a bit of an unsympathetic and annoying character for awhile. Gradually she gains strength and a bit of backbone but I felt it came too late. This, for me, deflated the climax a bit, making it feel like a simplistic literary device. It's not a bad read, but it took a lot of patience and determination to get through. Reviewer: Stephanie R. Pearmain
Kirkus Reviews
Stella first appeared shortly after Jude's mother died. Now that Jude is 16 and eager to escape her small English town and her classmates' torment, her childhood friend is back, "carrying cigarettes and sunglasses and possibility." Jude feels like a faded version of her actress mother, but Stella emboldens her to leave her self-imposed obscurity to audition at a London drama school. Jude wants to be Stella, who speaks in film lines, dresses provocatively and chides Jude for still being a virgin. Jude's internal world is a place of her own invention, where she took refuge after her mother's death. Nadin keeps the first-person narration squarely within this world, deftly weaving together the intricate parts of a psychological puzzle as she slowly reveals the true nature of the girls' relationship. Jude's voice is a blend of biting teen angst and fragile ego. When Stella tells Jude "there is no me without you," Jude is forced to come to grips with her recent gaps in memory and Stella's destructive influence. Teens harboring a secret wish to be anyone other than who they are will identify with Jude's struggle to shrug off her status as a misfit. A promising U.S. debut for teens—here's hoping for more from this British writer. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763648466
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: HL350L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanna Nadin is the author of numerous books for young readers. Wonderland marks her YA debut in the United States. She says, "I wanted to explore the idea of identity, and of wanting to be someone else, which is what I seemed to spend a large part of my teens, and some of my adulthood, doing." She lives in Bath, England.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013


    Amazingly cool and creepy at the same time

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Creepily awesome;)

    I am in love with this book and how mysterious it is. Yet what even greater is that this happens to people in real life! I just cant even comprehend it. Anyways awesome read one of my favs

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo

    Jude has always tried to be invisible. Ever since her best friend, Stella, left, Jude tries to avoid any confrontation. Then her drama teacher announces that Jude should apply to the prestigious drama school, the Lab, in London. In the meantime, Jude gets noticed at her current school, and mocked by the cool girls. Drama is the only thing Stella feels she is any good at. Then, out of nowhere, Stella returns. Stella is everything Jude is not. She's outgoing, she's cool, and she is able to stand up to the girls who taunt her. And she catches the eye of the popular boys. Stella immediately encourages Jude to buy some new clothes, to start talking to the boys, and begin partying with the other kids. But things are not all perfect. Life with her father is strained. Her mother died when Jude was younger. She keeps her other childhood friend, Ed, at arms' length. But Jude manages to snag an audition at the Lab, and Stella and Jude head into London for the day. At this point, I can't really elaborate more on what happens in the story because I have to admit, I was quite surprised with the plot twist that occurs. I so didn't see it coming! Jude and her father have some words, and Jude makes a startling realization that brings about some changes and understanding of herself. WONDERLAND is a heavy story, and may not be for everyone. But it's an insightful look at one's own situation and how they can change themselves to be what they are meant to be. Originally released in the United Kingdom in 2009, the reader will definitely notice the British feel of the story. Some of the slang may be foreign, but overall, the story is easy to follow and conveys the strong moral of being true to oneself. ***Note: There are some sexual situations in this novel that may not be appropriate for younger readers.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    BookWhisperer Review: Wonderland

    Wonderland is a mix of young adult romance and psychological suspense. Jude was a very innocent, and mindful young girl. Sadly, she is trying to survive in a life with the lack of a mother. Since losing her mother it seems she is completely alone; when he father falls to the dangerous grasp of alcohol. At seventeen years old Jude is on the brink of life changing decisions; as they begin to grow overwhelming she finds herself desperately craving the return of her childhood friend Stella. The wild and carefree Stella would never question major decisions such as the ones that Jude seems to be facing. As if a granted wish from her Fairy Godmother; Stella returns and life does not seem to resolve itself quite as easier as Jude at anticipated. When things begin to grow out of control Jude must find a way to separate herself from her friend, although this may prove to be impossible.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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