Graduates in Wonderland is an epistolary memoir between two best friends who graduate college and venture out into the world – literally. Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelka-Dale promise to email each other every week after graduating from Brown University so as not to lose touch and document the epic awesomeness of their lives.

Texas-native, outgoing Jessica Pan ventures off to Beijing in the September after she graduates, bringing along her Norwegian friend Astrid for the first year. She eventually gets a magazine job, has a few small relationships, and ultimately follows her intern, Sam, to Australia. There she and Sam build their relationship and Jessica finishes a graduate degree in Journalism.

Shy, anxious Rachel moves to the concrete jungle in pursuit of a career in the arts, and becomes quickly disenchanted with her assistant job at an art gallery. She lives with Rosabelle, her room mate from college, and Rosabelle’s boyfriend, in a one-and-a-half bedroom apartment. She finds a more desirable job after a while, but is still dissatisfied with life. Rachel applies for the coveted Fulbright Scholarship with the hope of going to Paris to study film – and she gets in. We follow Rachel’s two years in Paris as she learns to make friends and tries to fall in love.

BUT their stories don’t end there. I don’t want to give anymore because their stories need to be experienced in full. I highly encourage young people to pick this up as soon as possible.

Overall, a great summer read for anyone who’s recently (or not so recently) graduated, and trying to make it in this big, scary world. I enjoyed every single email these ladies had written and kept turning the pages to see what happened next! A wanderlust bug myself, I enjoyed seeing two people succeed abroad, that this notion of living life in different places is more than a pipe dream. While mostly the book made me hate my former homebody self, it also helped me realize that every decision I’ve made has led me to where I am, and that plans generally don’t work out for us.


A born-and-raised Jersey girl with a chronic case of wanderlust, Samantha spends her days reading, writing, and planning adventures. She currently teaches classes at the community college while living at home with her parents, trying and failing to become a part of the proverbial real world. Her dream is for someone to pay her for writing and traveling, but in reality she'll probably be teaching forever. Follow her mundane musings on Twitter @SamanthaG2012, and check out her personal blog, wanderlustingmillenial.blog.com

1 Comment

  1. this sounds like an awesome book to start reading now that I am a recent college graduate myself. ughh the post-grad life!

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