The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Dutton, 307 pages
US Release Date: February 16, 2012
Challenges: Sophomore Reading Challenge, YA Contemporary Challenge
Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.
But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?
Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.
She stares in wonder at the eggs and toast, and I know how she feels, how everyday things are rare and exciting when they turn up in unfamiliar places.
I really wish The Disenchantments was out when I had graduated high school...or even college, really. It's a brilliant, stunning novel about finishing one thing and trying to figure out the big, all-encompassing question of "What next?".
When I was about halfway through the novel, I tweeted out that The Disenchantments made me want to write again. I've been a trained journalist for 12 years, but I rarely talk about the fact that I'm a writer first and foremost. Not a published author (yet), but I have the dreams; just have yet to finish the story. For reasons too personal for the blog, I haven't written a story in a few years -- I've done NaNoWriMo every year, but it's never a story that I know in my heart is destined to be seen. It's been a very massive, very intimidating writer's block, essentially.
But The Disenchantments made that itch flare, made that deep need to write and create and express through words bubble up in my chest again, and it was absolutely amazing. Because this book is something I would absolutely love to write one day (not exactly, of course!). It's filled with that subtleness that works its way unknowingly into your heart, in that quiet fashion where you don't even realize how much it's striking your soul until there's so much of it it overflows. There's nothing EXPLOSIVELY HUGE or anything that comes from left field here, and it's perfect.
I think what really sold this book for me is how absolutely real it is. There aren't massive emotional swings, or tricks in the plot that are supposed to smack you upside the head: like real life, it's a struggle, a slow chipping away at a problem that opens it up gradually and painfully. It's that moment when you learn of the fissure in the foundation, and all that follows are the slowly and ever-expanding things you finally figure out to realize just how broken and screwed you are.
I can talk about how it's an amazing road trip novel, filled with that perfect journey - both literal and metaphorical - as we watch four friends become closer to who they think they want to be; and I could talk about the music (The Supremes!) and how awesomely well it all comes off the page, from Bev's breathy voice to the irregular drum beats to the feedback of the amps; I could talk about how appropriately and quietly art and all its forms and what it opens up in a life are distributed in the book; I could even talk about how even though it's not the sexiest, hottest or dream-worthy kissy scenes I've ever read, I do think they're absolutely perfect in this book and made me swoon just as hard. I could talk about all that, because it's all true...
But it's about how well it all comes together, how masterful Nina LaCour ties it all together into this perfect little mini-band tour. Each character (including Melinda!) is so unique and lovely in their own way, and I have to admit that Colby is possibly the best male POV I've ever read--YA or not. I felt like I was in the van with them, answering those quotes on a slip of paper, wishing I could know what was on Bev's walkman, buying Colby a half an hour in the hot tubs. And not just because I loved them all so much and wanted to be their friends, but because I found a little (or even a lot) of myself in every single character; even though sometimes that hurt, it was the best kind.
5 Stars / 5
(and more if I could!)