Reviewed by Maggie: March 22, 2012
Published February 16, 2012 by Dutton Children's Books
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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."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.
"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.
Final verdict: 3/5 stars.