The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Local author and upcoming NYMBC guest Nina LaCour's newest (and aptly titled) The Disenchantments is cool. The characters are cool, the settings are cool, the subject matter is cool. Even the VW bus is cool, in a retro, we-don't-have-any-of-our-own-money-so-we-borrowed-this-bad*ss-old car kinda way. I almost peed myself from the coolness lent to the story by a graffiti artist the protagonist befriends.
But I don't just love this book because it's cool. Or because it's about a bunch of kids from San Francisco. Nor do I love it because it takes place along that long drive from San Francisco to Oregon (with a brief foray into Washington), which is a drive I've taken at least 5 times now. I don't just love it because the writing is crisp, and lovely, and simple and evocative. But those are all parts of it.
I love it because it perfectly emulates the sensation of being done with high school, and realizing that, oh sh*t, this is when real life is supposed to start. And it illuminates this feeling perfectly, honestly, with touches of humor and with elegant prose. I haven't read a book this evocative of a particular moment in my own life since I read Lucy, by Jamaica Kincaid (which, if you haven't read, then you should, as it perfectly embodies what it feels like to be in your early twenties, a little pissed and a lot realizing that first person perspective is inherantly a little lonely.)
(By the way, if you're wondering about all the * in the swear words, I know, it's lame. But this also isn't my personal website, so professionalism, yo, it is a must.)
(Also, if you're annoyed about all the parenthetical asides, sorry. There's no excuse for that.)
Nina relies on no stereotypes, no tropes and no shortcuts in this coming of age story. She creates real, honest, pissed, confused, hopeful, loving teenagers. So if you know any of those, or are (were) one yourself, then pick up The Disenchantments. It's just for you.