Colby is about to embark on a year he’s been dreaming of forever: Once he graduates, he’s both driver and roadie for his best friend Bev’s band as they tour the Pacific Northwest, after which he and Bev will take off and spend a year exploring Europe. So it’s a major surprise when, before the rubber has even hit the road, Bev tells Colby she’s bailing on him as soon as the tour is done. That squall of feedback you heard wasn’t just Colby’s life screeching to a halt; meet The Disenchantments.

There are many reasons this book should be on your radar. Author Nina LaCour (Hold Still) has created a road trip so realistic you’ll end up with leg cramps from sitting in the van so long. Each stop along the way has its own side trips, cruddy motel rooms and wonderfully odd local characters. Also tattoos, impromptu dance parties, nude hot tubbing and epic graffiti. The excitement of live shows comes through, along with the boredom of hours on the road and time spent simply waiting.

While they travel, Colby presses Bev for an explanation. She does ultimately reveal an event from her past that shaped her decision to plan the trip, and also to abandon it . . . but did she really understand what she was seeing? With his plans in chaos, will Colby be able to regroup and reconsider his future without Bev in it? And when she told him, “You have to find something to love,” did she mean “besides me”?

While navigating these hard questions, Colby, Bev and their fellow travelers have lots of conversations about art and music; they’re a pleasure to eavesdrop on, and it’s inspiring to observe the way they each take details from their environment and turn them into a work of art, a sculpture, drawing or song, that captures a better moment than the one that really was. It’s not giving anything away to say the story resolves on an inspiring note, too—when life gives you so much raw material, sometimes it’s possible to make inspired, and brave, decisions. The Disenchantments’ music may make your ears bleed, but their story is beautiful and full of heart. Don’t miss it.

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