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?
The Disenchantments is the first book in my 2014 Road Trip Challenge.
I had to adjust my thinking about this book almost immediately upon starting it. Gender isn’t mentioned in the synopsis, but I had just assumed that Colby is the female on the cover. He’s not. He’s a guy and he’s in love with his best friend Bev and they’ve just graduated from high school and they’re planning a year-long trip around Europe that they’ve been talking about since eighth grade and it’s going to be awesome.
Well, Colby is planning the trip anyway. Bev’s been going along with the plan, pretending that she’s going along to Europe, but really, she’s going to RISD in the fall.
What a shitty thing to do to your best friend. Or to anyone. I hated Bev for abandoning the trip and especially for not telling Colby until just days before they were to leave, not until they had already left on HER crappy band’s tour of the Pacific Northwest, when Colby had little choice but to continue the trip or disappoint their other friends, Bev’s bandmates Meg and Alexa. I hated her and I never quite got over that, not even after she revealed the reason she came up with the idea in the first place and the reason for her emotional distance, not even after Colby and I both came to accept that Bev was just doing what’s best for Bev, and that happens to be art school, not Europe.
So I didn’t like Bev, but I loved Colby, Meg, and Alexa. It’s always different for me to read a YA book narrated by a guy, but once I got over my initial surprise, I quickly grew to like him. He’s a little angsty over Bev’s sudden reveal, but I can believe that. The Disenchantments takes place over such a short time (roughly a week) and this trip is something he’s been planning for years. It would be weird if he wasn’t disappointed and upset.
The other two characters in the book, Meg and Alexa, are sisters, both adopted by a male couple. Meg, the oldest by a year, is being left in Portland for college at the end of the trip, while Alexa returns to San Francisco to finish high school. Surprisingly, there’s no angst from Alexa over being left behind by the other three. Probably she has other friends in her own class. I hope so. I would love to read a book about Meg in college or Alexa either back at school or, a year later, going off to college herself. That’s how much I liked both of them.
The road trip is perfect, and they meet such interesting people along the way. Each tour stop is in a small town, with shows being played in basements and bars. The band isn’t very good, but no one cares. It’s different something for the townspeople to do and the girls have fun.
More than anything, The Disenchantments is a story about growing up. Each of the four is faced to confront things that have been right in front of them all along and each of them comes out of the road trip better prepared to face the new experiences that lie ahead.
One more thing: Bev’s senior project at school was a series of miniature sculptures made out of wood of their school and every student and faculty member in it. That sounds amazing. I would love to see something like that, even of people or a school I didn’t know! I can imagine myself spending hours looking at it and noticing new details every time I saw it.