Coming of Age in Wonderland: Portraits of Teenage Bermuda

Debra Friedman

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. —E. E. Cummings

On an island over 1,500 kilometres from the closest landfall, Bermuda’s teenagers come of age as all teenagers do, but with a difference. Here on “The Rock,” they are heir to a uniquely split personality: on the one hand, they are intensely tied to everything local, intimate, and secure—the stuff of their home; on the other, they are intensely drawn to the exotic lure of anywhere-but-here—the stuff of their dreams.

Coming of Age in Wonderland explores Bermuda schools, clubs, army recruit camps, fast food joints, sports fields, and parishes, and serves up portraits of young people displaying themselves in all their contradictory glory—awkward and brave, shy and bold—against a seemingly idyllic backdrop. But even in paradise, adolescence is complicated and fraught. Teenagers who are simultaneously wedded to the tyranny of cool and demand to be regarded as uniquely so also rebel against it, trying to disappear into the sameness of belonging. On an island that confines and sustains them, they present themselves with eloquent uncertainty as indelible icons coming of age in Wonderland.