Book Reviews

[review] The Disenchantments – Nina Lacour

book cover of the disenchantments by nina lacourRelease Date: February 16, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin)
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 307
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC received from Penguin Canada

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.

Tell Me More: At last count, I have 16,830 songs in my iTunes. Music is an intrinsic part of who I am and why I write, so when I found this novel on Goodreads, I knew it was either going to become one of my all-time favourite novels or a story that I passionately hated.

Whatever I decide, I might be making a mistake. But if I’m going to make a mistake, I want it to be passionate.
[based off uncorrected galley]

The relationships between teens and adults has become a cliche, a caricature of disagreements and rebellion. Adults try to dictate, teens act out. For readers who are used to those power plays, the attitudes that Colby and Bev display are jarring. To have parents who let you go on a cross-country road trip with no supervision, to be able to do whatever you want in Europe–it’s the kind of thing that would make new thirteen-year-olds weep with gratitude.  But analyzing the characters opens up a whole new dimension of their lives, and the decisions they make hold a gravity that most teens won’t experience until they go to college.

For much of the novel, the key word is passion. How far are you willing to go in pursuit of it, and what are you willing to give up to fulfill it? I thought I knew what that meant. As a girl who chose creative writing over a (admittedly) more lucrative career in medicine, there were moments when I was just as confused and off-kilter as Colby. But strangely enough, I found myself more in tune with Bev as the novel went on.  When so much of your future was something you decided as a kid, it does become more challenging to keep to that commitment. I’m sure that there will be reviews that rip Bev apart for hurting Colby and giving up on their dream, but I don’t agree with that at all. In fact, I think she’s the bravest person in their ragtag team.

The title is particularly telling: The Disenchantments. At first glance, it seems to be poking fun at the way they play music. Colby readily admits that they aren’t the best musicians or singers, and he even seems perturbed by their appeal once on stage. They are the very image of a powerful girl punk rock band, a dream musical group–they just can’t sing or play instruments. But Colby is okay with it, because in his mind, they are everything he wants them to be. Bev is the girl of his dreams and he would do anything, be anything to have it stay that way forever. This novel is not about Bev, but about Colby, and most importantly, about the growing disenchantment that comes from living your life solely for other people. Even the cover contributes its own spin on things, with a girl in rose-coloured sunglasses. Colby is afraid to make a mistake, to shatter the images of Bev and the future he wanted to have, but neither of those things are what he really needs.

Passion is a wonderful thing, and it colours life in ways you can’t always foresee. But beyond passion, any future needs commitment and courage. Colby is not a perfect character, and I sympathized wholeheartedly with his confusion. I wanted him to find his true passion and to have the courage to stick with it no matter what. At the end of the day, however, it’s Bev that I admired most. Her faith in their friendship and willingness to give Colby a wake-up call were wonderful traits, even if she didn’t quite know how to admit them at first. I’ll always be grateful to Nina Lacour for writing this story, if only because it reminded me that real passionate love for anything in life is possible.

That’s Not All:

  • Meg and Alexa are precious, and I’m glad to have friends in real life that remind me of them.
  • THE BOOK TRAILER. It was EXACTLY how I pictured Colby and Bev.

The Final Say: Nina Lacour picks out the broken notes of Colby and Bev’s friendship and tells a bittersweet story that will haunt readers as much as their favourite songs do.

Be sure to visit Nina Lacour at her website and follow her on Twitter @nina_lacour.

You can check out The Disenchantments on Goodreads and order it from The Book Depository.

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5 replies »

  1. That book trailer was awesomesauce. I need to read this book. Well really, I want to see this movie because the boy was absolutely adorable and that little smile he did made my heart explode.

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