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.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great read - pure wanderlust
This is a fantastic book - a very enjoyable read that captures what it means to be (or feel!) young in your early twenties and have the opportunity to live far from home, in amazing places like China and Continental Europe.
I would highly recommend this - but be warned, you'll want to hop on a plane within the first few chapters and start a few life on the other side of the world!
It's also very witty - a very accomplished piece of work by two young promising American authors. They successfully balance very honest accounts of their own lives during three tumultuous years living abroad with mature insights and lots of humour. It feels very real - two lives unravelling and growing on the page - pure joy.
Loved it! I want more
This book was great. I really felt like I could relate to and understand both of the girls. It felt like I was reading a book about some friends of mine. However, maybe it's just me, but I feel like it took me a very long time to actually get through the book. Maybe it's because of the email format, but I felt like even though I couldn't out the book down like I still had a long ways to go. I hope the authors come out with another book or a series. I want more!
Graduate in Wonderland
I loved this book! The friendship between Rachel and Jess is so strong, that they can tell each other anything without being judged by the other. It is probably a friendship that everyone would wish for. I read this book from my Iphone on a road trip from Utah to Illinois and I thank Rachel and Jess for making the ride so enjoyable.
Very honest, funny and at time tears, believe me you won’t be able to put it down!