The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (2012)
Don't be fooled by the Urban Outfitters-esque cover, the giant sunglasses or the rainbow t-shirt (which I want, desperately), and say these two words to yourself. Road. Trip.
Colby and Bev have plans. While most of their friends are heading to college in the fall, Colby and Bev will be knocking around Europe, forging their own path. But first, road trip, a tour of the Pacific Northwest with Bev's band The Disenchantments (Bev and their friends Alexa and Meg). Colby and Bev have been planning this trip since the 8th grade, working hard and saving all their money for this trip. Except Bev tells Colby, a day into their tour, that she's not going to Europe but instead is going to college in the fall. And for the rest of the book, Colby is left to figure out what he's going to do -- what he really wants to do.
This book is a great contemporary read. No zombies. No aliens. No dystopia. The characters are cool, normal kids. I could have been friends with these kids (if I'd gone to a cool art high school, also a favorite fiction element for me). Their problems are big and real but not insurmountable and not hyper-dramatic. No one's dying, no one's been horribly abused or has a drug problem (although every time Bev lit a cigarette, I wanted to shake her and scold her). I admired Colby's dedication to his dream. When I was in 8th grade, I wanted to be a pop singer, like a bad Disney starlet in the years before that was a viable option. I wouldn't have dared to travel anywhere, especially on my own. So I admire dreamers with enough practical sense to work towards those dreams, especially teenagers. As for the choice Colby must make, well, I'll let you read the story to find out what he does.
Oh, one other favorite fiction trope? Playlists. Back in the day, we had mix tapes, and my friend and colleague Jen, who recommended this book to me, was so enamored of this book that she made a Spotify playlist of the music mentioned in the book.
Cross posted at my blog (Library Lass) Adventures in Reading.