The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour [Book Review]

The Disenchantments coverThe Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
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Release Date: February 16th 2012
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: 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.

I went into The Disenchantments blind. When I went to the library, I had a plan but they only had one of the books I wanted so I picked some others I was interested in and this was one I saw and decided to pick up!  It had a bit to do with the cover, I’m not a huge fan of faces on covers but it’s just so pretty and colorful! I’ve also seen some nice things about it and Gayle Forman has mentioned Nina LaCour on twitter a few times. I did break and read the flap after I started because I was curious about where it was going!

Colby and Bev have been best friends since they were kids. They have done so much together, including discovering music. They’re about to graduate from an arts high school in San Francisco. After graduation, the plan is to go on tour for a week with Bev’s girl band, The Disenchantments, then fly to Europe and explore. From the time they take off on tour, Bev is distant and weird. Then she tells him that she isn’t going to Europe because she’s going to college. Colby is understandably upset. He’s been planning this trip and he was really excited.  He feels hurt and isn’t sure what to do instead.

I enjoyed the dynamic between Colby and Bev. Bev is a really charismatic girl, she’s the type of girl everyone gravitates towards. Colby is one of the people gravitating, continually. Early in the book, you see that he likes her and isn’t sure if she feels the same way. She’s attractive and makes out with guys and girls in front of Colby all the time, but she never forms attachments with anyone. He’s sort of in this hopeful limbo where he daydreams about them getting together with occasional embarrassing results, like when he has to cover his lap with his hoodie, ha! It takes a while for Bev to open up and explain what’s going on with her. I like how vulnerable and unsure she is, and how Colby realizes that he doesn’t know everything about her and other things.

The Disenchantments are Bev as the lead singer, and sisters Meg on bass guitar and Alexa on drums. They are awful at playing music but they don’t care. They play because it is something they really enjoy doing. They love the music and the way they play makes people love them, even if they don’t love the actual music. The inspiration for the band is mainly Riot Grrrl bands like Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill, but they appreciate a lot of girl bands. Meg’s a huge fan of The Supremes, Colby’s favorite girl band is The Runaways, and on the trip they’re introduced to The Chiffons and Alexa falls in love with Heart. I loved all the music talk and the girl band talk! It was a lot of fun, and the fact that the band isn’t actually good is so entertaining.

They’re all artistic and I loved reading about their art. Colby draws and sketches everything, but one of his favorite subjects to sketch is Bev. Bev carves people and objects out of wood, and I loved reading about her carvings. Alexa has one more year of high school and keeps talking about what her play will be about. Colby also thinks about and discusses different kinds of art, and he’s interested in graffiti and mentions Banksy. I loved it all! I also enjoyed all the people they met and things they learned. They made friends all over the place and met interesting and weird people.

There’s so much discovery, especially for Colby. He’s flailing because he’s had this plan for years. He doesn’t know what to do with his life or who to talk to, because the person he would normally talk to about problems like this is the one who caused it. He has to look at his life and feelings and search for the right thing to do. I’m not going to give anything away, but I loved the ending, even though it was a little bit painful (in a good way). There were definitely some tears. It’s wonderful how it is as a stand alone but I do find myself interested in what happened after the end of this story!

I didn’t have any real problems with the story. Colby was a nice narrator. Sometimes he might have known a little too much about clothes, but I was willing to let it slide because of how much time he spends with girls and he’s also really into art, so he’d probably be more likely to notice colors and prints.

4 star rating

I loved this book! I loved the characters, the music, and the art. I loved the trip and the VW van named Melinda. I loved the discovery and heartache and all the hopefulness. It’s a book I can see myself picking up again at some point and I opened it to find a detail for this review and almost just read it again! I don’t have a copy of my own right now, but I plan on getting one sometime, although I am annoyed they changed the cover for the paperback. I really want to read Hold Still by LaCour because I enjoyed her writing so much. I would recommend The Disenchantments if you love art, music, and friends-to-more stories with a bit of pain involved.

Check out Nina LaCour’s website and twitter!