Barnes, David-Matthew. Wonderland. Bold Strokes Books, 2013. PB. 208p. $11.95. 978-1-60282-788-2.
In this touching young adult book about giving others a second chance, Barnes displays the same writing style and experiences that he expressed in his plays and other writings. Although one character’s parents are a same-sex couple and two other characters are gay and bisexual, the content is not blatantly gay. Instead it is a well-written story of true love and friendship that anyone can appreciate.
This heartwarming story begins when Destiny loses her mother to cancer and is sent to live on an isolated island in South Carolina with her uncle and his partner. She makes friends with two misfits, bisexual Tasha, who cares greatly for others and protects Topher, a gay boy who is the target of the bullies on the island. The two lead Destiny to find her family’s secret, a magical place called Wonderland. Once there, Destiny learns that her family has the ability to give a second chance at life and love to one select person who knows the meaning of true love.
It is in Wonderland, currently led by Destiny’s great-grandmother, that the potential savior meets his or her target and then must decide if there is a desire to save this person. The decision for Tasha and Topher is easy: they meet the true love of their personal desires.
Destiny’s choice is more difficult. She must decide whether to save her mother or the boy who will be Destiny’s true love if she saves him. Barnes calls upon the reader to consider the meaning of true love and friendship as well as the reasons for sacrifice.
Although this novel belongs in any youth collection, adults will also appreciate the descriptive and evocative writing.