Friday, June 29, 2012
Author: Nina Lacour
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, 2012
Read for: Fun
Colby and Bev, best friends for as long as they can remember, are doing something different than the rest of their arts high school -- instead of heading to college after senior year, they are going to travel through Europe and experience the world. Until Bev informs Colby that plans have changed the week before they are supposed to take off, while they are on a road trip tour of Bev's band, The Disenchantments. Fighting disappointment and a lack of direction, Colby travels through the week trying to find out what he needs to do and what he really wants.
I have read a few road trip books in the past year or so. Some I have mostly enjoyed (Roger and Amy's Epic Detour), while others have left me underwhelmed (Saving June). However, The Disenchantments was exactly what I consider a perfect road trip book to be. Colby echoed my sentiments perfectly when he expressed (unfortunately, in a way that I can't quote, because it's saved on my poor broken computer that is at the computer hospital right now) that being on a trip, away from the unfamiliar, can allow things to happen in ways different from how they would normally transpire. Already in a time of upheaval, Colby's tour with The Disenchantments was a catalyst for him to discover what he really wanted from life and love.
The characters in this book were incredibly developed and vivid, even those that played only minor roles in the story. Colby, the protagonist, was one of the most likable people I have ever read about. Uncertain of himself and hopelessly in love with his best friend, he manages to be consistently considerate and fun, the perfect guy best friend (which in my experience also makes the perfect person to fall in love with). I was less impressed with Bev, whose main redeeming quality seems to be that she is beautiful. She did not treat Colby with much respect, and while some of the reasons for her bad behavior are revealed throughout the book, I have never thought that negative experiences constitute a reason to treat someone else like crap. However, despite the fact that I didn't like her, she was wonderfully complex and seemed realistic. The other members of the band, sisters Meg and Alexa, were also fantastic characters, full of life and quirks and consistently there as great friends to Colby.
I also loved the way that little deviations in the planned trip allowed Colby to experience some serious self discovery. As he meets people he never would have spoken to otherwise, as he travels to strange little towns that are different from his familiar San Francisco, small truths about life and about himself are slowly uncovered for him. I've always felt this catalyst effect on little trips myself (hence my ongoing internal argument with Ralph Waldo Emerson against his belief in Self-Reliance that leaving home does not facilitate new knowledge) and loved seeing Colby's outward journey reflected in his inner development.
The Disenchantments is a well-written, vivid story about a road trip and a life-changing experience. Lovers of travel will enjoy it, as will anyone who has experienced the way a change of scenery can result in a change of heart.
Warnings: Scene of sexuality, language, some scenes with nudity