Summary: Wonderland by Joanna Nadin left me feeling unsettled, listless, and full of “what if” wonderings. I haven’t read a book that had such an impact on me in a long time. Although I figured out the twist in the story before it was revealed, it didn’t lessen the impact. In fact, it was a relief to know I was right.
Jude wants nothing more than to escape the small town where she has grown up, the school where she doesn’t fit in, and the home that is haunted by the ghost of her mother and by her father’s misery. Her only chance is the Lab in London, a prestigious acting school. But Jude isn’t confident enough to try.
Until Stella returns. Stella, Jude’s childhood best friend; the girl who can do and say anything, who is cooler than cool and a force of nature. Stella’s return pushes Jude to try for her goals. But Stella’s influence isn’t all positive. Soon Jude and Stella are doing all the things that Jude never had the courage to do before; taking on the popular girls at school, flirting with the cutest boys, drinking, smoking, and more drinking.
Will Jude have the strength to walk away from Stella? Is it even possible for Jude to exist without her? Is Stella all that makes Jude truly alive?
From the prologue, which sets up the novel’s ending, I was hooked. Why are she & Stella sitting in a car getting ready to roll it off a cliff and into the sea? Jumping into the first chapter, set three months before the prologue, I was drawn into Jude’s world. It is not a pretty place. There are no fairy tales in this story – just a harsh reality that made me sad for Jude but also hopeful that she can be more than she was, without Stella’s destructive guidance.
15 and up
Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: moderate
Nudity/Adult Content: moderate