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The Disenchantments

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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.

310 pages, Hardcover

First published February 16, 2012

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About the author

Nina LaCour

13 books5,665 followers
Nina LaCour is the Michael L. Printz Award-winning and nationally bestselling author of six young adult novels, including Watch Over Me and We Are Okay; the children's book Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle; and Yerba Buena, a novel for adults. She's on faculty at Hamline University's MFA in writing for Children and Young Adults program, and teaches an online class of her own called The Slow Novel Lab. A former indie bookseller and high school English teacher, she lives with her family in San Francisco.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,034 reviews
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,358 followers
February 10, 2012
This cover screams Fun in the Sun! This blurb screams Road Trip and Music! So I was going into this expecting a light, fun, read. It's nothing like that. It has it's fun moments for sure, but the story is very sad bordering on depressing with a deep "finding oneself" message. This is not a bad thing at all. In fact I often enjoy books with this vibe, but going into this with opposite expectations really threw me for a loop.

The story is told in Colby's point-of-view. He and his best friend Bev have been planning a year long trip around Europe for years. Leaving on a road trip to tour with Bev's girl band, she tells him the Europe trip is off. Colby spends the bigger part of the book brooding over this, upset towards Bev for lying to him for months. I understood where he was coming from, but I didn't get why he was depressed about it to such degree. Losing a year he could have spent at college is definitely not fun - especially when it's unplanned, it's hardly the end of the world. Plenty of high school graduates take a year off before going to college and end up with great careers. For Colby, it was as if he was losing his whole future.

It's not all sad however. We do have some fun parts where the girls play their very bad music, meet some intriguing people who take them on mini adventures along the way. These can seem a bit far fetched, but are still entertaining. The girls are all so unique with their quirks and fun spirits. The whole cast is really great which helps brighten the mood of the book. The only character I did not like very much was Bev. She's very moody and secretive for the most part, refusing to explain why she suddenly backed out of the trip. She gives off a lot of angst which I never particularly enjoy. Colby though, he's a great protagonist. His voice is real; he may be dramatic but his feelings still feel true. So overall, even though I wasn't expecting such a serious vibe with forlorn emotions, the characters absolutely saved the day and I was still able to have fun with the story. I'm fairly certain, especially now that you know what to expect, most readers will enjoy this more than I did.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for emma.
1,864 reviews54.3k followers
May 4, 2018
this book was my life preserver against a reading slump.

like, "if i start this and read the whole thing in a day, then there's no way i'm slumping. no. way. even if i haven't finished anything in a hot second. even if i feel slumpy. it's science."

the book itself was whatever.

but at least i'm proven to not be in a slump!!!

anyway: lots of objectification of girls in this (bleh). lots of white boy whining (also bleh). road trip plotline, which i love, overshadowed by unrequited love and all the drama that comes with it. but mercifully short and quick to read.

it's contemporary szn baby!!!!
Profile Image for Maggie.
432 reviews429 followers
March 23, 2012
Something that 18-year-olds and potheads have in common (if they're not one in the same) is that they think everything they say is so DEEP and PROFOUND. The problem is that I don't belong to either group.

The Disenchantments is the story of four friends and bandmates who hit the road after three of them (Colby, Bev, and Meg) graduate from high school. Colby, the lone boy, is our narrator and manager of the Disenchantments. On the eve of the trip, Bev tells Colby that despite their plans to visit Colby's mom in Paris and then backpack around Europe for the year, she's going to college instead. To further complicate matters, Colby has been in love with Bev since they were kids. Nothing like awkward tension and feelings of betrayal to kick off a trip.

Needless to say, this wasn't the light, fun road trip book I was expecting. It was my own fault because I saw the cover, read "road trip" in the summary, and assumed it would be FUN in the SUN! Still, throw France in a story in any shape or form and I'm usually appeased. Unfortunately, I didn't feel engaged in the story until page 246 -- of a 307-page book. For the majority of the book, I felt little connection to the characters. Colby's DEEP 18-year-old thoughts just made me roll my eyes. For example:
We drive past a lumberyard, full of a forest's worth of felled trees. I slow as we pass it. It's almost too big to comprehend.
Okay, homie. He's not the only one emo-ing out, although he does have the best reasons. Alexa, the band member with a year of high school left, gets a splinter in her foot. But to a 17-year-old, a splinter is not just a splinter.
She says, "The world is against me."
Inevitably, when you put 18-year-olds in a room or car together, they come to MEANINGFUL and PROFOUND realizations.
"It's hard."
"What's hard?" I ask.
Bev shakes her head, as if the answer is too big to put into words.
Finally she says, "Growing up."
And there is nothing any of us can say to that. It feels too true for a response.
I was mid-eye roll until I thought back to 2am conversations with my roommates freshman year. Let she who is without self-importance cast the first stone, right? As insufferable as some of the Disenchantments' musings were, they are the typical musings of the age group. The story took a Graffiti Moon-esque turn on page 252 and my interest raised tenfold. The 50 pages that end the book are where the story should've started. That story, and the story that begins at the end of the book, is one I would've loved reading. There is an audience for this book and these characters, but unfortunately it wasn't me.

Final verdict: 3/5 stars.

This review appears on Young Adult Anonymous.
August 15, 2021

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I recently read EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour and it was so good that I decided that I simply had to read everything I owned of hers, ASAP. I don't normally like books about road trips or books about bands, so when I found out that this book was about both of those things, I was like "yikecycles." But, on the other hand, who else could shatter your jaded genre-bound ennui but a fave?

There were things I loved about THE DISENCHANTMENTS, and things that made me want to Hulk!smash. Unfortunately, the things that made me want to Hulk!smash were pretty close in number to the things I actually liked, which made for a pretty frustrating read.


So let's get down to business.

Our cast of characters:

Colby: Manic Pixie Friendzone

Bev: Flakier than a pie crust and not as sweet

Meg: Cuddly little ball of anxiety

Alexa: She's so bad she's good

All of these teens are going on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest because the girls are in a band. It's actually a really terrible band, but because they're all hot, they keep getting booked. Because this is America. Colby gets to come because he's their ride and also (less importantly) their friend. The plan is initially that they drop Meg off at college in Portland and then Bev and Colby are going on a trip to Europe that they've been planning all year-- but oh, once they're on the road, Bev is like, "You know how you threw away all your college plans for this? JK! I changed my mind without telling you and I'm going to RISD!" and the girl is so thick-headed that she just doesn't understand why he's so mad.

The best parts of this book are the road trip itself, surprisingly to me. Sleazy hotels, restaurants with hot tubs in the back, bars that are waaaaaay too comfortable giving booze to teens, lots of art talk. It feels like a 70s movie starring Brooke Shields and Farah Fawcett and maybe also John Travolta. But tensions are high because Flaky Bev won't tell Manic Pixie Friendzone why she bailed. And when she does, she tries to couch it in "one time I saw my mom fucking someone else and it traumatized me for life and now I can't have healthy relationship" guilt, which... no, that's NOT how that works, Bev. Just because the fuckboys do it doesn't mean it's #feminism to turn the tables and be a fuckgirl.

So this wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't nearly as good as EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU and it made me really mad. I actually had to check the publishing date because it felt like it was published in the mid-aughts when indie teen movies were all the rage. I half-expected Michael Cera to pop up.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
February 14, 2017
Loved the quirky characters and the whole band touring thing, but at times I found the characters to be almost unbelievably 'cool'. They were just a bit too picture perfect at times I guess, if that makes sense. Video review to come.
Profile Image for kari.
849 reviews
June 27, 2012
Most definitely.
So I guess this one is aptly named.
Actually 1 1/2 stars ... barely.
I won't be reading this author again. I didn't feel that I was reading the voice of a guy for the most part. Other than when some other guy says hey bro, I started to wonder if Colby was, in fact, a girl with a gender neutral name, particularly since the love interest, Bev, makes out with boys or girls.
Speaking of the love interest, in order for this story to work, the author needs to sell me on the idea that this character is worth the trouble. I need to feel that she is fabulous and that, of course, Colby would be crazy about her since everywhere they go, she is making out with someone. Everyone is attracted to her. She must be fantastic, right? Not so much.
Also, I didn't get any idea of Bev's sparkling or wonderful personality. Why is everyone attracted to her? Just because she's hot? All I really get to know is that the back of her neck seems to be quite fetching as Colby draws it over and over and one of the girls mentions how pretty her neck is since she has just shorn her hair. And her long tan legs and her graceful hands are described, but who she is? Yeah, not so much. And the smoking just because they're on tour. Is this supposed to make me think she's so cool?
So, she suddenly announces that she has changed her mind on the plan they've had for four years, a plan to take a year and travel around Europe. So, yep, she's out and then spends the entirety of the road trip pouty and angry that Colby has the audacity to ask her why. Again, for this character to work, I have to feel that I care about why, that it matters, that she is worth it. I am worn out with angsty teenage girls who make their own drama instead of dealing with anything. When Bev's deep dark secret is revealed all I thougt was: "Really?" *yawns*
This pretty much sums up how I feel about Bev and it's in her own words: "I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't know how I could have done this." p. 247
As a reader,I can't stand her and I don't know why anyone would put up with her nonsense. The author hasn't managed to sell me on the idea that this girl is anything special. Instead, I'm left with the idea that Colby is an idiot for having wasted years of his time with this nasty piece of crap. Sorry, that is just how I feel. If I had a friend who lied to me for four years, almost each and every day of those four years, I wouldn't be saying okey-dokey when I hear her idiotic reason. Yeah, that's just how I roll. I know this is a story and not real life, but this kind of bad treatment from a friend makes steam come out my ears because we're supposed to think it's okay (since she was finally forced to tell the truth).
So, Bev aside, the whole of this is just meh. I didn't think their epic road trip seemed like they were having fun. It seemed mostly boring, riding around in the van, stopping at this or that uninteresting place.
Nothing here is memorable.
Profile Image for Sandra.
94 reviews15 followers
May 4, 2012
Some books snug up to my heart. They imprint themselves on me to the point where they become a personal experience, appealing to a part of me that wonders and thinks and feels deeply.
Nina LaCour's finely written book The Disenchantments crept up on me hooking me into some deep and contemplative thinking. Colby, the narrator, muses to himself, “I want to find the right fit. I'm getting closer, but I also know that I might never really have everything figured out. I might be searching forever”.
Right. We all might be searching forever, yet that's what living is all about: searching, reaching, redefining, refining and back again.
When I say the book crept up on me, I mean it lolled me into thinking it was a coming-of-age-teen-angst set of scenarios. I couldn't have been more off. Colby's confused and hurt. His broken heart drips with angst and disappointment. Everything he had dreamed of is suddenly ripped from him looking more and more like an old beater car sitting in a junkyard.
He hits the road in an old blue VW bus named Melanie. It's filled with his three friends, girls whose not-so-good band takes them from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon and several little burgs in between to play one-night gigs.
His dream of a trip to Paris and wandering throughout Europe, with his best friend and love of his life, now wilts before him, a fantasy, an enchantment, that threatens to plague and destroy him. Still he drives highway 101, literally moving on with life.
In the throes of disappoint he's asked about his ability to dance well. He replies, “It's because I don't give a shit…In just a little while we will forget things we used to want and adjust to the lives that we're given”.
It's with these disenchanted words that I became enchanted with the direction of the book. If you decide to pick it up to read, and I hope you do, don't let the torment of the first third of the book fool you. Coming-of-age isn't only for young adults. It's for all ages who wonder and question, who reach for understanding the mystery of life's many alleys and towers.
As a metaphor for life, the road trip took me along with Colby and friends on an exploration, meeting characters of all ages along the way who have elected to live their lives in significantly different ways. They hold one thread in common, the universal experience of letdowns and highs.
Colby comes to a point where he wonders whether all of the disappointments aren't meaningless or random. “It is better to think that fate is the reason my plans have been ruined – that it might be because there's something for me out there, or something that I'm meant to do...”
Toward the end of the book as Colby rides along in the vintage bus, he sees his eyes reflected in the rearview mirror and the flowers and trees out the window. Aristotle's writing that theater should be, “True to life and yet more beautiful,” comes into his mind.
I say close to the same thing about The Disenchantments. It is true to life and it is beautiful. As Colby observed about the girl band, “They want to make music, so who cares if they don't know how?”
My translation would be something like, “Live your life. Who cares if you don't know how?”
Profile Image for Brooke.
284 reviews142 followers
April 7, 2017
I was nervous going into this as I've had mixed luck with LaCour's work. She has a stunningly beautiful prose, but her stories are a hit or miss for me. Because of this, I've held off on reading THE DISENCHANTMENTS for the longest time & only picked it up as it caught my eye scanning through the library rack. "Well, this has been on my TBR for several years now, I might as well just give it a try." Now I can see it was a mistake waiting that long. Although, perhaps not. Sometimes things hit you at the exact right time & make the experience all the more wonderful.

I will say that this is not a YA book for everyone- it's a very slow-burn, coming of age tale about coming to terms with what comes after high school & how life's plans don't always work out like you thought they would. The premise of conveying these concepts through a road trip/band tour was excellent & I felt it was executed near perfectly. I can see how it takes a while to warm up to the characters, but maybe I didn't have that problem because I could connect with Colby right off the bat. I found each character: Colby, Bev, Alexa & Meg to be refreshing & intriguing. I didn't see any of them to be particularly unrealistic or unlikeable; just teenagers trying to figure out what's next.

I loved the twists & turns off the map, & meeting those whom you never would have come into contact with if you didn't sway. Although music does play a large part, this is really a story of four friends traveling for a week & grappling with the reality of the fact this will be the last time they're all together- for who really knows. The interactions are painful & honest & uncomfortable, but necessary. There were quite a few phrases & emotions that stuck with me, things that I won't be able to shake. Reading this actually got me thinking how amazing this would be as a film, which kind of makes me chuckle because we all know Hollywood has enough of those. (Yes, I don't mind books being turned to the big screen, even if it ends up sucking the big wazoo. Hate if you will.)

If you've never read one of LaCour's books (but seriously, you're missing out), I cannot praise her prose enough; regardless of the content of the book, you can always count on it to be written wonderfully. Her EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU is a fantastic romance, but if you're looking for something that's more about identity & finding yourself, I'd recommend this hands down. I know I will be thinking about these characters for a long time.
Profile Image for laaaaames.
524 reviews97 followers
March 6, 2012
Short review: every single character in this book's relationship status on Facebook is, hopefully, "It's complicated".

Long review:

Dear Colby, protagonist of this book,

Nearly ten years ago, I made plans to move to my dream big city. My best friend decided she would too, with the plan of arriving a few months after me. It sounded like the best future in the world. Then suddenly when I talked about it she grew uncomfortable and shuffly, and one day she refused to talk to me and refused to say why. After I begged a whole bunch, she confessed she did not want to and would not move with me.

I felt my whole future fall apart.

And then it, you know, it didn't! I felt abandoned and hurt but my dream wasn't dead and so I kept going, and I got there, and now it's the future and I'm old and withered and I'm still here in my dream city, and it truly has been a dream being here, other than the effing price of apartments and how that shiz about the traffic is no joke.

What I'm saying, in my usual long and drawn out and overly personal manner, Colby, is I get it. And watching you go through a very similar situation, well, it was hard. It hit very close to home, and it didn't help that your friend loved my favorite band so very much, and that another friend loved another dear friend's favorite band so much. There was a lot of me in these pages, from tattoos to Sleater-Kinney's "Modern Girl", and I wasn't expecting that at all.

But I didn't just see a ton of myself in this book, my fictional friend Colby, I saw a lot of big truths and the scary stuff that happens when you're working on growing up. And as you know from thinking about your parents, well, it never really ends. But the good thing is that you already know how to make choices and take stands to keep going.

Your nonfictional reader,

P.S. Please don't tell anyone I write letters to fictional teenage boys. That CAN'T be good for my rep.

(read: 22)
Profile Image for Emily (Obsessed Reader).
430 reviews285 followers
June 4, 2015
Very enjoyable. I liked the writing style. I couldn't really connect with the characters, but other than that it was a fun read.
Profile Image for Leslie.
99 reviews158 followers
June 23, 2015
Rating: 4.5 I loved this!

PERFECT book to read in the summer! It's so fun and easy to read.
Profile Image for Alexa.
351 reviews279 followers
November 20, 2011

My review can also be found on my blog Collections.

3.5 stars

I felt pretty disconnected at times with The Disenchantments. I love reading from the male POV, and even though I rooted for Colby, he didn't do much for me. Colby's in love with his best friend Bev, and for most of the book, I had a hard time understanding why. Bev was distant and didn't seem to care about Colby's feelings. I just couldn't get myself to like her. Eventually, Bev explained why she had been acting that way. And I got it. I understood where she was coming from. However, unlike Colby, and probably because I'm not in love with her and I don't know her like he does, I didn't completely forgive Bev right away.

This book also made me feel a little dazed while reading. It was a weird feeling. I usually feel that way when I visit unfamiliar areas, and the places Colby and his friends went to on their road trip tour to perform music seemed to mostly be in the middle of nowhere. Colby's other friends and Bev's fellow bandmates were sisters Meg and Alexa. They were unique and quirky and were definitely part of the reason I ended up having a daze-like feeling. I liked them though. They were good friends to Colby and Bev. Another thing I liked was that even though their band The Disenchantments pretty much sucked, they didn't care at all. It could have been awkward, but it never happened. They just did it because it's fun and they love music.

In the end, the weeklong journey might not have been as enchanting as I had hoped, but it was an interesting one to experience. There was enough closure, and I'm happy with the way things turned out for everyone, especially Colby.
Profile Image for Evan.
Author 3 books133 followers
April 24, 2012
I finished this book in February. It's April and I still think about it. I think that says enough, right?

Well, here's a few more things to consider: there's a scene early in the book -- the band's first show in some dude's basement -- that had me smiling the whole way. Upon reading that scene, I knew that this was not going to be a slog through romantic angst or trauma or manufactured danger. This was going to be a quest for understanding and purpose (because the world is always demanding we "have a purpose"). It's a relationship story, yes, but not simply about Colby and Bev falling away from each other and then learning something. This is about all the most important kinds of relationships one can have -- with friends, family, strangers that become new friends, and strangers we see once and never again.

It's got some impressively real moments but what stands out most are the VISUALS LaCour conjures via language.

THE DISENCHANTMENTS is an excellent way to spend a weekend.
Profile Image for Laura.
38 reviews136 followers
June 12, 2012
{This review originally appeared on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. }

When we are young, we are whimsical dreamers.

Our parents and the adults in our lives encourage this fanciful mindset. They tell us that with hard work, we CAN INDEED be elected President of the USA, possibly even without winning the overall popular vote. We WILL INDEED see our favorite football team win the Super Bowl in our lifetime, since there’s no way they could possibly lose 4 years in a row.

But as we get older, we are encouraged to break up with our dreams in favor of “attainable goals”. Instead of President, what about Mayor’s administrative assistant? Instead of a Super Bowl win, how’s about rooting for a playoff berth? Scratch that. How’s about rooting for a .500 season? And so on.

About the same time we begin to realize that all the smizing practice in the world won’t make us skinny or tall enough to fulfill our dream of competing on America’s Next Top Model, we realize that we have to figure out what to do with ourselves with our limited 5’2” frames, we have no idea what that should be, and the combination scares us shitless, though we are loathe to admit as such.


The Stages of Upper Middle Class Adolescence

Ages 11-13
Whoever the cool kids happen to be at the moment,
whatever they have, I want...my parents to pay for it.

Ages 13-15
Whatever the group of people that I like (or happen to sit
with in the cafeteria) have, I want...my parents to pay for it.

Ages 15-16
Hmmmm. Perhaps I should figure out what *I* want,
and then have my parents pay for it.

Ages 17-18
Hmmmm. Perhaps I should ever so slightly consider
what my parents want for me since I want
them to pay for it.

Ages 18-22
Shit. I still have no idea what I want. I guess I’ll go
to college since that’s what my parents want.
Maybe I’ll figure out what I want while I’m there
and my parents are paying for it.

Age 22
Fuck. I still have no idea what I want,
and now my parents are refusing to pay for it.

Rare is the upper-middle class child who deviates from the pattern. However, Colby, narrator of Nina LaCour’s gem of a sophomore novel The Disenchantments, and his long-time best friend Bev are such deviants. As the only members of their graduating class not attending college in the fall, Colby and Bev have been saving their own money (!!!) since freshman year in preparation for a year-long jaunt to Europe.

Except, not so much.

Because unbeknownst to Colby, Bev has applied and been accepted to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, thereby scuttling their plans for a joint trip to Europe. Bev conveniently chooses to inform Colby of her plans to generically attend college AFTER they are already on the road for a Pacific Northwest tour for HER band, The Disenchantments, in an old-school turquoise VW van named Melinda that HE has provided, via his uncle.

Understandably, Colby is furious, confused, demoralized, and completely at a loss for how to deal with his future without Bev (for whom his feelings are much more than platonic) by his side.

On the condition that Bev inform him of her reasons for not telling Colby about her decision sooner, Colby agrees to continue on with the week-long tour.

And so, along with sisters Alexa and Meg, who comprise the rest of the band, Bev and Colby venture up Highway 101 for The Disenchantments farewell tour. They drive along the curvy, treacherous, inappropriately guardrail-less coastal highway and wind their way into small, economically depressed Northern California towns for their scheduled gigs in places like a foreclosed house’s basement.

(Having recently made a trip from Portland, OR to Eureka and Arcata, CA and back again, I can vouch for Nina LaCour’s impressive accuracy in regards to the setting. Also, having experience as a mini-roadie/merchandise table princess extraordinaire, I can also vouch for Nina LaCour’s exquisite eye for detail in regards to the zany interactions of a band traveling in a van.)

The time on the road provides Colby with time to ponder his options for the next year, which, with typical teenage angst, he feels are too few and too sucky.

After all, since he planned on a romantic European adventure, he applied to zero colleges and missed all the application deadlines. With a his artsy high school diploma offering little hope beyond a minimum-wage job, which would certainly not pay enough for him to get his own apartment in San Francisco, he would have to live at home with his dad and Uncle Pete. From there, he’d most likely end up complacent and wallow in the stuckitude of living at home for the rest of his life.

Rather than embrace his former dreams, Colby both believes and fears that,

"In just a little while we will forget all the things we used to want and adjust to the lives we’re given."

His angst is compounded by that fact that The Disenchantments farewell tour means more than the end of his career as a roadie for a less-than-mediocre grrrrl band.Rather, it means a splintering of his comfortable, quirky circle of friends, and the bittersweet knowledge that his future encounters with the people he has spent the most time with for the past four years will be limited, and possibly reduced to occasional pokes on the facebook.

Whether or not high school and college memories are savoured or bitterly recalled, they are formative times for everyone who attends. They are both four year communities, in which we are surrounded by the same people in what are ostensibly academic environments, only to leave at the end with hollow promises of keeping in touch 4EVAH that sometimes, but more often never, come to fruition (especially when people like me refuse to join the facebook.)

While it would be easy to dismiss Colby’s angst as rote teenage melodrama and make snarky comments about first-world problems, I found it refreshing to be reminded that growing up, no matter what the socio-economic circumstances, is a stupefying experience.

The number of paths that could potentially make us happy or depressed are infinite, which makes the responsibility of choosing so daunting. At that age, making a choice seems so definite, which is scary to the point that maintaining a status quo or allowing someone else to decide can appear better, just because it would be easier. As Colby observes, if someone or some circumstance dictates the direction of his life, then,

"All the vast and terrifying questions -- Where should I go? Who should I be? -- would be replaced with absolutes."

My own personal journey after college began with two years of food service purgatory because for me, making a decision, one that I would be wholly responsible for, was a terrifying prospect. Eventually, I made the decision to move across the country to get training in a field that would allow me channel my love for pianos into a career. I was petrified that it might not work out. And I was exhilarated that I was finally doing something, anything.

In The Disenchantments, Colby, Bev, Meg, and Alexa are experiencing the first of many decisions that have the potential to define their adulthood, from getting tattoos, beginning college, or pursuing something that most people would consider “Just something to talk about. None of it ...anything that people actually do.” Their journey together as they pursue the mystery of a familiar image found in a tattoo parlor’s picture book, drop Meg off at college, and speculate as to what caused Bev’s change of heart is a potent reminder of the time when we now-jaded adults thought,

"How can I wish for one thing when everything is beginning?"

And when everything begins for Colby and The Disenchantments at the end of their tour and the book, all I could do was marvel at Nina LaCour, for so loverly capturing the intense yearning and formidable uncertainty that come with being on the brink of adulthood.

FNL Character Rating: Landry and Julie on Landry's last night in Dillion.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
July 16, 2013
Rating: 3.5 Stars

It is difficult for me to fathom now, looking back, that I considered abandoning this novel many times during its first quarter. The Disenchantments starts out as a dull book, which hardly seems possible as it begins with a group of friends setting on a road trip to make music, but dull it certainly is. And then, suddenly, everything begins to pick up and from that point on, it hits you – or it hit me, at any rate – like a ton of bricks that this book; this book is so, so good and it’s only going to get better. I don’t get that feeling a lot when I’m immersed in a novel, but when I do get it? I perk up, listen, and stick with the novel. And I am incredibly glad I did.

Nina LaCour’s sophomore novel is nothing like her debut, Hold Still, which reeks of depression and sadness amidst its beauty. The Disenchantments is about nothing as serious as death, but it is just as valuable and important. Colby and Bev have been friends since childhood, always intent on skipping college and flying straight to Europe after high school. Thus, when Bev announces that she did, in fact, apply to college and get in, Colby is stunned. Unlike Bev, his future has no direction. No concrete plans. And he suddenly is stuck with two tickets to Europe and a whole bunch of uncertainty. If there’s anything I love, it’s a book about self-growth. The Disenchantments is a wacky sort of novel, flying everywhere and nowhere at once, but everything comes together by the end.

Colby and Bev go on separate journeys; he realizing what life will be like without Bev constantly by his side and her realizing what life will be like now that she’s made such a huge decision. For Colby, the possibilities are now endless and that, more than anything else, scares him. He could go to Europe. He could go to college. He could do anything. LaCour captures the helplessness that teens feel when finally thrust upon the vast world so perfectly and though Colby and Bev aren’t your average teens and their story isn’t the typical one, it still resonates. Its message is hopeful and meaningful, the journey Colby takes is one of great importance and by the end, you cannot help but feel as if you can tackle the world. The Disenchantments is not a perfect novel, but it spoke to me, and at the end of the day, I really can’t ask for much more.
Profile Image for Aruskabomb.
107 reviews198 followers
August 29, 2012
Bev was a total bitch and Colby was clueless.

Now, if "You two are not meant to be" wore a ski mask, shoved Colby into its white van and took him to a desert and beat him on the head repeatedly with a blunt object, Colby still wouldn't know it was "YOU TWO ARE NOT MEANT TO BE YOU IDIOT".

The End because that's all there is to this story because 1. Colby's "epiphany" didn't move me and 2. I couldn't care for any of the characters. Even that punk chick and her sister and that tattoo dude.

God, how I hated Bev though.
274 reviews332 followers
July 31, 2015
We felt so small with the city lights stretching forever below us, and we yelled at the top of our lungs because we were just these small humans but we felt more longing than could ever fit inside us.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I like it, and I don't.

First things first. I HAD NO IDEA COLBY WAS A GUY. Not a single clue. I didn't know until he said "she's a girl and I'm a guy." I had to stop reading to process that fact that Colby is not a girl, but a guy. From the synopsis, I assumed Colby was a girl, and you know, she has a fall out with her best friend... But of course that makes no sense. I don't know what I was thinking when I read the summary. But Colby can be a girl's name. And there's a girl on the cover! That bugs me, it really does. Okay, whatever, moving on.

This isn't one of those books where once it begins, I'm in love. It took a few chapters until I really got into the story. It might have been that fact that The Disenchantments is narrated by a guy (which I don't like very much). In the beginning, this didn't seem like anything special, just an average book. But around the middle-ish, I began to connect with the characters and really get drawn into their lives and everything going on with them. By the end, I was completely caught up with everything going on. This went from a two-star book to a three-star to a four. Somewhere in the middle area, it occurred to me that, wow, this is a book worth reading. The beginning needs work though. I was close to putting this down and not continuing. But thank goodness I didn't do that.

Searching, always. And yes, we all are, or soon will be, disenchanted, I still want to know it all: the heartbreak, the fear, the friendship, the anger, the love. All of it.

The Characters:

I'll begin with Colby, because, well, he narrates this. I didn't like him very much at first. He seemed too... I don't know, emotional? I can't come up with the right word. After finding out that Bev wasn't going to go with him to Europe, he understandably became upset. Anyone would. But it was more than that. I guess because he's in love with her that he took it so hard, trying to figure out why she dropped their plans for college. Colby isn't a character I easily relate to. He had plans to travel all around Europe, with no intention of going to college. For me, that's completely out of the question. I can't imagine putting off college for however many years to go travel. Sure, maybe for a month or whatever, but definitely not anything Colby has in mind. But anyway, it took awhile to get used to him. He turns out to be a really great person at the end. :'D

Bev. She's one confusing character. Like Colby, she's not a character I immediately like. She's very closed off and isn't one to give answers. I really feel bad for Bev; her life is so complicated. And to have to carry a secret for four years, feeling like you can’t tell anyone—not even your best friend—that’s hard. Then to find out everything you though was wrong? It sucks. Gradually, I grew to somewhat like her, but she needs to sort herself out. Poor Colby's in love with her because she keeps sending mixed signals. Even at the end of the book, I couldn't find myself to like Bev very much. Her attitude and actions were too much.

Meg and Alexa were great supporting characters. I loved that they were such opposites, but go together so well. It would've been nicer to see more of them though. More them, less Bev. What I liked most about their band was that they sang and they played even though they weren't amazing at it. Although I don't exactly understand how that got them to tour...

What kept coming back to me while reading is how they're all so unnaturally artistic. They go to an art school, sure, but Bev carves all these figures and the way Colby describes them, it's not realistic. And Colby himself is too good of an artist. Gah.

The end was my favorite. Things tie up into a nice and pretty bow. Colby makes his decisions about the future and Bev talks to her mother. I loved the graffiti scene—it's the start of Colby's future. :D Jasper isn't a big character in this book, but I really liked him. I found his friendship with Colby to be too sudden though. Maybe that's a guy thing? Anyway, I like his personality and !

The ending made me cry so hard. It's so sad. :'( High school's just high school until it's over. And then everyone leaves and you gradually stop talking to them until you eventually don't. Unless, you know, you're the best of friends. But that doesn't usually happen.

So overall, I really enjoyed The Disenchantments. The beginning just needs fixing, as well as Bev. :P
Profile Image for Lauren.
407 reviews606 followers
December 3, 2011
The Disenchantments is kind of a quiet book; on the surface it seems to be a fun road-trip/bonding story, but Nina LaCour turns it into so much more. She has this way of taking your emotions and giving them a great big squeeze—there’s an enormous amount of power packed into her writing and the plights of the characters. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up at certain points in the story; sometimes because of the connection I felt to the characters’ emotions, but sometimes just because of the beautiful sentences Nina LaCour fashions together.

The Disenchantments (and Colby) are such a fun group of people. There’s just something awesome that happens when a bunch of artsy people get together. The Disenchantments have a great dynamic: because they’re all kind of weirdos, we’re able to focus on each one of them equally. Nina LaCour allows us to really connect with each girl. It’s interesting that LaCour chose Colby as the narrator, because he’s not part of the band. We get to see what going on a tour is like from the perspective of someone who just drives the car, rather than seeing it through the eyes of a star. I really enjoyed his narration, and reading all his inner thoughts. Though I don’t think Colby’s narration will necessarily make The Disenchantments appeal to a male audience (the focus is still on the band and on his relationship with Bev), it’s always great to see things from a guy’s perspective.

One of the things I most enjoyed about The Disenchantments was the little side stories. Colby finds himself caught up in the lives of many different strangers, and they all have such interesting stories to tell. Nina LaCour does a great job of crafting detailed pasts for each of them, and they’re all memorable, no matter how few pages they appear on.

Music lovers, The Disenchantments is definitely a book for you. There are many references to bands like Heart and The Runaways, but there’s also this vibe that just feels like a music video. Emotions run high, a boy is in love with his best friend, and a group of teens get in a car and go anywhere they want. Not a cheesy music video, though: one that’s sincere and not without darkness. The Disenchantments is a lot of fun, and if you like realistic fiction, I’d definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,112 reviews132 followers
March 18, 2016

This book made me think of traveling with my husbands band and even helping out when I can. Ah! The good ol' days. I honestly believe that I was their biggest fan.

You will instantly fall in love with these idiosyncratic characters. They will bring up memories from your past and make you reminisce about better times. Now only if I can talk my husband to join a band and travel the world.....

Profile Image for Ashley Owens.
405 reviews68 followers
June 19, 2018
I really thought I would love this book and give it at least 4 stars. I mean it's by Nina LaCour - one of my top 5 favorite YA authors - and has so many of my buzzwords; music, road trip, Pacific Northwest... yes please!

Sadly these characters just were not for me the way the characters of her other novels were. I think I read this book at the wrong time in my life, I probably should have read it about 9 years ago.

Ultimately I did not find this compelling in any way. Le sigh.
Profile Image for Hilda.
200 reviews144 followers
December 4, 2012
Addictive and beautiful, The Disenchantments is one of my favorite contemporaries this year.

The Disenchantments kicks off with two best friends Colby and Bev graduating from high school. Colby is ecstatic because in one week, he will be touring Europe with his best friend Bev. They have planned the tour since the beginning of high school year, and he can hardly wait for them to spend a year together in amazing countries in Europe. Before the much-awaited journey in Europe, the two best friends will spend a one-week last tour with Bev’s girl band, The Disenchantments. But in the first day of their tour, Bev suddenly announces that she can’t go to Europe with Colby because she will go to college. Colby is angry and confused of the sudden announcement, but more than everything he is hurt because Bev has never told him about her plan to go to college. But the show must go on and Colby is their only roadie. With no back-up college plan or any desire to travel alone in foreign countries, Colby must find out during this one-week tour: what would he do next after The Disenchantments’ tour ends?

First of all, I just want to praise Nina LaCour for her wonderful writing! When I was reading it, it was very easy to imagine myself sitting in the backseat of the van along with the members of The Disenchantments. The story in this book is split into eight days, and it was like watching an imaginary movie unfolding before my eyes. The events flow really well and I like to get to know all of these characters. They all bear their own unique characteristics that make them stand out.

Colby is a wonderful protagonist that I really like. He’s an artist with observant eyes and laid-back attitude. He’s the type of guy best friend any girl would love to have. His undying love to Bev is really sweet as well. I love how they have been best friends since childhood. However, Bev is not a character I instantly warmed up with. She is tough, secretive, and confusing, and I didn’t really appreciate her for hurting Colby in purpose. But she has her own reasons for her decisions, and once I get to know her more, I begin to see things that Colby has always seen in Bev.

The rest of the members of the band have stunning qualities as well. Meg is loud, cheerful, and basically the type of girl you would like to hang out with. She’s the type of person whose presence would brighten the whole room. Meg’s sister, Alexa, is the responsible one in the band. She’s almost like their secretary, but it’s cute that she believes so much in fate. When Alexa leads them far away from their destination because she insists to follow what Magic Eight Ball said, it’s such a smile-inducing moment for me. Every character in the book has their spotlight moment, and they feel like my dear friends when I closed the book.

I think everyone can relate easily to issues presented in The Disenchantments. Like Colby, we all have experienced moments when we doubt about what we really wants to do in our lives. We have the vague image of what we want to do, but we don’t know yet what steps we should take to get there. And like Bev, we all have secrets that mold us into what we are now. Each character in this book has their own issue and I think they handle it pretty well in the end.

All in all, The Disenchantments would appeal most to fans of contemporary. I would recommend it to people who are looking for good road-trip books with characters they can identify themselves with. :)

It isn’t complicated, it isn’t surprising. It is simple and sad. She told me thousands of lies, so many that it could take forever to forgive her, and there are so many things I could say back to her right now. About being cowardly. About being deceitful. About being reckless with someone else. But I don’t want to say any of that. Instead, I step toward her and she drops her arms from over her chest. I hold her close and she holds me.

And it doesn’t take forever, all it takes is this.
Profile Image for Stephanie Grimes.
1 review9 followers
November 14, 2014
In the book ‘The Disenchantments’ by, Nina LaCour, Bev and Colby have a strong friendship that goes out all the way till graduation. After graduation, They decide not to go to college and just go to Europe together with Bev’s band. On the road they stop at a hotel and stay the night. During the night, Bev stays in Colbys room, and they “Sleep” together. After they leave Colby finds out he has developed feelings for Bev. On the way to Europe Bev has something to tell Colby.. Find out what the shocking surprise is after you read this amazing book!

I would give this book a rating of 4 because it was a really good book by giving good details to what is going on and what the characters are doing. It also has some really good dialogue with both Bev and Colby, it tells me how they feel and what they are doing. This book is very surprising and yet strange like in the beginning of the book Bev and Colby didn’t want to be anything more than best friends but by the end of the book, that all changed. I love the way the relationship changes throughout the book between Bev and Colby. I would recommend this book to most Middle school girls who love surprising romance.
Profile Image for hayden.
1,061 reviews736 followers
June 26, 2016
this one was very cute. i totally fell for it, what with the misunderstood teenagers in the band (a shitty band, but nevertheless a band), the road trip, and the college stuff. this is how i reckon my life would have gone were i pretty.

the disenchantments is a very honest look at what it's like to be a teenager, which i appreciate. lacour doesn't write with that implicit condescension that so many other YA authors write with; she respects teenagers as human beings, never invalidates their feelings as hormonal or developmental.

the book dallies with lots of musical and artistic influences (mostly the supremes, the chiffons, and heart), and i made a mini-playlist to listen along to as i read, adding to it with each name drop. a fun, heartwarming, and honest book.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
October 16, 2012

i found myself doing something i’d not done in the longest time while reading a book. i normally just zip through these then throw out the points that’s left an impact on me. usually, i come away with what i liked and didn’t like (an isa meets so and so plus highlights, if you will.) but this one? this one had me reaching for my pen to jot down thoughts i didn’t want let by. and while i’ve ended up with another one of my meet the characters (here: colby and bev) thing, i’m not complaining because i loved them… true, despite us having started out on shaky ground.

i’d been in a pisser of a mood of late, finding little funny in what should have been and nitpicking over the littlest details. run ragged irl, the last couple of books hadn’t allow me the fun i was wanting . in that mood, i was sorely tempted to chuck this, so i put it on hold… smart decision on my part because had i not, all the ‘we’re arty students and not the typical teenage set’ would have annoyed me no end: colby, painting a very clear picture of how they were each dressed and how they each had their own thing, had me thinking, ‘you guys think too much’ (presently of course i think i’m no better than an idiot for complaining over that; better to think too much than not at all, yes?) but really, I was calling them poseurs in my head, but can you blame me with one girl running around channeling her inner flower child and the rest of them voicing their inner grrls.

worse yet, me tossing this was becoming more and more likely with him proving that there's a direct relationship between how deep his musings could get to how slowly the meanings of what bev was (or more apt: wasn't) doing would sink in! so that in the moment that he finally grasped it: the poor guy was floored! by that point, annoyed me got swept off to the side by the pity I felt for him. (really, though: the poor guy!) so there i was: hooked despite a story line already done to death of boy in love with his bff, thinking (wanting) the other clueless on the matter. but with the truth coming out, one moody page and one moody character at a time, i was going to see it through.

a lot of what happens is because he lives with his head in the clouds so that each time he’d comes down from it, he’d get smacked by the truth. either this boy needed some hugs or maybe some time to really look around him because their shared history was not similarly experienced by the two of them. and it could have been so easy just to pity him and despise her for him because of that, but it's not! yes, they’re both moody; their ups and downs had me wondering how they’d survive being in a car together, but they’re also more than that. moments revealed the positives, the funny and the real, like the fact that they’re all just stretching out those last moments of being together. and that was just bitter sweet because they’re all finally stepping out on their own, and they want to do so but also don’t want to. the exciting is all mixed with the terrifying, i suppose

so, i loved this (craptastic start, notwithstanding.) there’s that neat connection to their respective pasts. And how they each want what they do and act the way they do because some person did something or some other person said that something else. i love that idea: that consequences ripple on. it’s not just their story, but other people’s too. and it’s not even the music and the road trip that has me feeling good right now (those were tiny bonuses.)

mostly, i loved the musings; boys and girl and let downs; finding someone out (several someone’s in fact) and then the lot of them getting their shit together and growing up, being all hopeful about it at first, then owning up to how scary the same was. but my favorite bit is him figuring out the hard way that who you think a person is is sometimes miles and miles away from who they really are. and that what one wants doesn’t always jive and doesn’t’ always have to go with what someone else does.

this was a lovely read.
Profile Image for Terri.
929 reviews35 followers
March 19, 2018
I just finished the ARC of Nina LaCour's new book, "The Disenchantments" - due out it in February of 2012. I am so honored to be one of the first to read it...Having just spent quite a bit of time with Nina LaCour recently, and having just gotten back from a trip to the San Francisco area, it was hard for me to separate all of that from the book because there is so much of Nina LaCour and the Northern California area in the book - the music, the art and photography, the ultimate hopefulness of the book...

The premise of "The Disenchantments" is unique - a group of mostly recent graduates go on "tour" to some shady establishments up the west coast with their mediocre at best girl band, and their one boy "manager." The story takes place within a one week period - and what a week it turns out to be! The central conflict involves the narrator, Colby, and his best friend, Bev. The two have been planning and saving since ninth grade to delay college for a year and explore Europe. They are to embark on their trip once they return from The Disenchantment's tour. As the trip begins, Bev reveals that she isn't going to Europe and is going to college after all. Colby, who has done no college planning, is left high and dry. When Nina first told me the premise for the book, I admit that I was skeptical in terms of whether or not this idea could capture and sustain a teen reader's interest. Europe isn't a possibility that a lot of teens even think about.

Trust me, LaCour manages all of the above deftly. "The Disenchantments" reminds me a lot of books like "Looking for Alaska" that focus on genuine characters with all of their beauty and flaws, their complex and fascinating relationships, and all of the difficult and wonderful things that make life so interesting. "The Disenchantments" is a character driven story. The characters are multi-dimensional, rich, complex, and real - and we see them all through Colby's eyes. Their relationships are fraught with conflict, moments of unsureness, simple pleasures, fun, and so much more. The episodic nature of the plot - the road trip filled with all sorts of memorable characters and moments - is compelling (I read the book all in one day). And there is so much wisdom here. How does a 29 year old know all of that stuff, Nina? Through the experience of reading "The Disenchantments," one can contemplate...the meaning of friendship, telling lies, dreaming and planning, the healing power of art and music, accepting people where they are at, love and commitment, the value of teens having caring adults in their lives, the importance of thinking things through - of solitary and deep contemplation, and ah...disenchantment.

My only issue with the book, though small, is the cover. It plays young and female. The colors and the rainbow on the girl's shirt seem middle schoolish. Had the rainbow actually been a tattoo, as it is in the book, I think the book would more likely attract the type of reader who might enjoy this book.In addition, the main character is a boy - the cover features a brunette girl, and I don't think any of the central characters are brunette. I honestly don't think most male teens will pick up the book without some hand selling, which I think is incredibly unfortunate. I know the author generally has little to do with the cover choice...

The book is just fantastic. I just had a student in who saw the ARC on my desk and said..."Oh...I love her and can't wait until that book comes out. Can I touch it?" I told her she could borrow it and she lit up like a jack-o-lantern! Congratulations to Nina, LaCour!!!!!!

Profile Image for Christianna Marks.
351 reviews64 followers
April 16, 2013
You can read this and many other reviews on my YA book blog The White Unicorn!

Guys I wanted to love this book, I really did. Road trip with a band followed by an adventure to Europe. That's my dream life, but what isn't my dream life is this book. I'll admit that I would have given the last 90 pages a 3 unicorn rating, but it was what came before that that made this book not work for me. I think had the book started with the last 100 pages and continued, I would have been much more pleased with the story. It had all the fixings to be perfect: music, art and friendship all shoved into an old school, VW van with some musical equipment, but it just plain fell flat for me.

First I had no idea that Colby was a dude and as I was reading I was wondering if he really was. I didn't find him authentic at all. I know a lot of guys and none of them would ever act the way that Colby did. I swore he was a girl the whole book. And so it made my reading experience awkward. I think that Colby should have been a lesbian who was in love with her best friend, because that's what it seemed like, even though apparently Colby was in fact a fellow. I just couldn't wrap my head around what the author wanted us to believe with his character. I get internal dialogue sometimes leaning toward the feminine, but his actions and spoken words needed to be masculine and they weren't. Not until the last 90 pages that is. Then Colby sounded like a dude out of nowhere. A dude I wanted to like, but couldn't.

I found Bev to be one of those people who I didn't like much either. She's supposed to be this amazing creature that Colby is in love with and his best friend, but she's been lying to him for 4 whole years. Yeah that doesn't work for me either. And their relationship made me cringe instead of cheer them on.

I did however really enjoy Meg and Alexis! Those sisters rocked and are what touring with a band is all about! I was glad that they were around to shed some light on all the darkness that Colby and Bev's mess was making. They were sweet, edgy and rock n roll. Plus, Alexis' love of Heart was a great addition to the trip. Oh and Jasper! I kinda loved him and the fact that he went out of his way to help everyone find that mystery tattoo!

The music and the band were actually done really well. I liked that they really didn't play that well. I think we all know bands who play more for fun than for recognition and LaCour has a good grasp on what the dynamics of this kind of band are like. Also all of the music mentioned is good stuff! This girl has great music taste which she features wisely in this book. I also liked the odd mystery surrounding the tattoo that Colby goes in search for and the touring aspects of the trip. That stuff actually held my attention.

I think in the end my dislike of the book stems from not understanding the leads and wishing that it was about all of the secondary characters instead. But if you like coming of age road trip tales then this just might actually be the book for you, even if it, sadly wasn't the book for me.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,336 reviews227 followers
May 2, 2019

Although I like Nina LaCour, I didn’t enjoy THE DISENCHANTMENTS. To be fair, I didn’t think I’d enjoy the book, but when I needed something to read and I saw THE DISENCHANTMENTS on Kindle for $2.99, I figured I’d try. I’d have been happier rereading one of my old favorites.

I didn’t care about the characters, particularly narrator Colby and his symbiotic relationship with Bev who I was glad had the foresight to choose college over a year long road trip. I get that he was upset she put off telling him, but also understand at eighteen direct communication can be difficult, especially when Bev knew she’d be disappointing Colby.

Being middle age, I may be too old for the book. Read other reviews before deciding.
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