No one who has ever lived through the hormonal coming-of-age known as senior prom is likely to forget it. The suburban community of Levittown, Pennsylvania, takes this rite of passage very seriously. A committee of students spends all year planning the senior prom's theme and decorations, and residents line up early to watch and cheer as Pennsbury High School students arrive for the event.
Sports Illustrated reporter Michael Bamberger spent a year behind the scenes at Pennsbury, documenting the prom preparations. The result, Wonderland: A Year in the Life of an American High School, is much more than a book about a dance. Bamberger has produced a sweet, moving story about students balancing between the safety net of high school and the uncertainty of looming adulthood.
Bamberger was able to coax some powerful stories from normally reticent teenagers. One young couple struggles after becoming teenage parents. A star athlete faces doubts about his post-high school career. A classic overachiever spends the entire year begging pop singer John Mayer to sing at the Pennsbury prom. Bamberger's chronicle of one year in the life of ordinary teenagers is pitch-perfect. Reading Wonderland is like stepping back in time.
Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.