by Nina LaCour
Colby and Bev have been saving for years (and years) for their year-long-backpack-around-Europe-before-college-trip. It’s going to be the best. They’re best friends, after all, and, well, Colby is pretty much in love with Bev. Except Bev isn’t going. She’s going to college instead. She applied ages ago. Sorry.
To make matters worse (or not quite so bad), Colby will be spending the summer before he’s not going to college traveling around with Bev and Meg and Alexa, The Disenchantments, managing their Pacific Northwest tour from his Uncle Pete’s VW van. There is some road-trip revelry here, and a goodly amount of deep adolescent angst, that keep things moving and give us plenty to think about along the way. But the novel’s real genius comes from profound clarity and resonance with which LaCour paints Colby’s circumstances. To be sure, not many of us have experienced this particular turn of events, but she makes something universal of the skittish confusion and achy disorientation that come when the dependability of high school gives way to the unknown of what comes next. It’s no easy path to tread, and Colby’s way through is thrilling and sad and powerfully affecting. By getting the trauma just right, LaCour makes the resultant growth immediately recognizable and especially gratifying.