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Wonderland by Michael Bamberger

June 11th, 2004 (08:13 pm)
tired
Tags: ,

Current Mood: tired
Current Song: Neon by John Mayer

Wonderland by Michael Bamberger follows the lives and loves at a Pennsylvania high school for a year. He profiles not just the students but some of the teachers and parents as well as the principal. There are the popular kids; the audio/visual boys; the jocks, both female and male; the Homecoming Queen; the teen parents; all sharing their experiences.

The title is two-fold. The book begins with a passage by Lewis Carroll, whose classic work Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a coming-of-age tale in its own right. One of the boys profiled in this work attempts to get John Mayer, the singer / songwriter / guitarist, to perform at their school prom. Mayer has a song entitled "Your Body is a Wonderland." It is interesting to note that the student body had an interest in Mayer prior to his winning Grammy awards; in fact, the book shows his rise to fame over the course of the school year, as well as the band Maroon 5.

Happily, the focus of the book is not on songwriters or pop culture, but the experiences of teens. They offer drama, comedy and tragedy. Such is real life.

Never invasive, never an expose, this book tells it how it is. The writer never judges the actions of the teens; he lets their actions speak for themselves. Each chapter is named after a month, September through May. I would have liked to have read more about finals and graduation, rather than cutting off after the prom in May. However, I liked the last bit wrapping up what happened the summer and fall after the school year, and the fact that the author tied it into his own past and present experiences.

This study of a year in the life of high school students to shows that, when you get down to it, teenagers across the nation have more in common than they might think. Not only that, but it will appeal to all ages, because many of the same hobbies, goals, hopes, fears, loves and losses of the present generation are those of generations past. If you're looking for a behind-the-scenes look at prom and school life, head over to Wonderland.

If you'd rather read about fictional proms, please check out my Prom booklist.