The Disenchantments strike a common chord

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour; published by Dutton Books, New York, 2012; 320 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.   Expected publication date is February 16, 2012.  Part of this review originally posted on LibraryThing.com and follows.  

How do you transition from high school to life-after?  For these four friends, they hit the road with the all-girl band, The Disenchantments, on their way to drop one off at college.  Colby, the only guy on the road trip and our narrator, has borrowed his uncle’s vintage VW Van (named Melinda) and will be the girls’ roadie.  His best friend since, like, forever, is Bev, lead singer of the band.  Sisters Meg and Alexa round out the power trio and it is Meg who will be staying in Portland to attend college.  Alexa will return to San Francisco to finish her senior year of high school.  Colby and Bev will be heading to Europe to backpack for a year, realizing their four-year-old dream of seeing amazing island chains, art, and Colby’s mom.  But, life has a way of mixing things up and the four teenagers discover this in the cramped interior of Melinda and in cheap motel rooms.  Disappointments, secrets and the unexpected threaten all of their plans.  Can their friendship, and even romance, survive?  I was smitten by all of the characters and grew to care about each of them, even the quirky tattoo artist, Jasper.  As realistic fiction goes, this is an easy read full of heart, heartbreak and the chance to follow where the heart leads.  As coming of age fiction, it hits all the points of self-discovery, growth (and outgrowing), and saying goodbye.

I’d like to add that I was very happy to read about Alexa and Meg’s “two dads” in a very matter-of-fact way.  Also, the marriage troubles that plagued other adults were handled in a way that reflected real life.  It was refreshing to read about problems that were subtext to the main plot.  Every teen or young adult will relate to at least one of the characters.  Everyone struggles with family, friends, and future issues just like the protagonists in The Disenchantments.  One line in the book summed up the whole “coming of age” struggle faced by high school (and even college) seniors: “In just a little while we will forget all the things we used to want and adjust to the lives that we’re given.” (page 146 in the ARC edition)

4P     3.5 Q     Grade Level: 10-12+

Cover art: I guess this is supposed to be Bev, wearing Colby’s sunglasses.  I assume it’s meant to attract its target audience with the real person look.  However, after reading so much about Colby’s logo for The Disenchantments, I believe a black cover with the silver logo would be far more interesting than this one.

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction)

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