Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Book Review: The Vacationers by Emma Straub
(This book was an advanced copy received as part of a Birchbloggers contest through BirchBloggers.)
Description from Goodreads
An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.
For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.
This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.
The Vacationers is the perfect summer read.
If you've heard the hype about this book, that's pretty much what everyone is saying, and typically I don't subscribe to the idea of a "summer read", but this fits the very definition, at least according to all the magazines and tv shows hyping up summer reads. It's an easy read- there's nothing complex here, both in words and thoughts. But it does keep you entertained, and you want to keep reading to see how their problems end up.
Franny and Jim Post are celebrating their thirty-fifth anniversary in Mallorca with their family, and dealing with the fallout of Jim's cheating on Franny with a young colleague. To Jim's defense, Franny doesn't come across as a very nice person most of the book, but eventually I just saw her as the type of person that liked things in a certain fashion. Jim is dealing with basically losing his identity because he's lost his job as a repercussion of the affair, and is also trying to prove to Franny that he still loves her and wants to be married.
Sylvia is Franny and Jim's young daughter who just graduated high school, and is getting ready to head off to college. She wants to lose her virginity over the summer, and has decided her Spanish tutor, Joan (pronounced Joe-Ahn), would the the right person to do that.
Bobby is Franny and Jim's oldest son, who lives in Miami with his much-older girlfriend Carmen. They come on the trip, and have an ulterior motive of sorts involving some debt Bobby has incurred by selling supplement powder.
Bobby was probably my least favorite character for 95% of the book, but by the end I just felt really sorry for him.
And finally, there are Charles and Lawrence. Charles is an old friend of Franny, and an artist, and Lawrence is his husband. Lawrence desperately wants a baby, and they get the news while in Mallorca that there is a baby available.
The book follows the family through their two week trip, and each chapter is one day in their journey. It's an interesting approach, and allows us to really get involved in the families everyday adventure, and we read in basically real time what happens as the family deals with all their own demons, as well as coming to grips with each others.
For some who want adventure, mystery, or grand romance in their books, this won't be for those people. This is like the kind of TV show you watch where nothing really happens, but you love watching it. I, for one, really just enjoyed being with this family on vacation and watching how their lives played out. And at the end, no questions remained. We know what happens with everyone, and their problems. It was satisfying.
I gave this book five stars on Goodreads. I really just loved being with this family, and can definitely see myself revisiting the Posts again.
You can purchase a copy of this book for Kindle here, or a physical copy here.
FTC: I received this book as part of a birchbloggers contest. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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