Author: Emma Straub
292 pages, published May 2014
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
I've seen quite a few reviews on this one, both positive and negative, so I was definitely intrigued to read it. When I saw it while browsing the library at the university where I work, I couldn't resist picking it up and reading it for Bout of Books 11!
From Good Reads:
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.
This was the first book of Straub's that I've read, and I really enjoyed it! Though it made me wish I was on vacation somewhere fabulous! The book was an easy, light, and fun read. It flowed well, had an entertaining storyline, and is perfect for summer--especially if you can relate to a dysfunctional family vacation!
The characters in this book are so dynamic, multidimensional, and real. My favorite character was Sylvia--a recent high school graduate trying to navigate the emotional and social transition between high school and college. I was really impressed with how the author intertwined all the characters' storylines, and tied them all neatly together in the end in a satisfying way.
The only criticism I can make is that I would've enjoyed more atmosphere of the local flavor of Mallorca--I was hopping for a little more description about summer on the island, and local flair and flavor. One of the reasons I really enjoy reading is to be able to "travel" through reading books set in areas around the world, and I wanted a bit more of that from this book. Other than hints at speaking the local language, there was little description about the cultural setting.
If you're looking for a light, breezy, beach or summer vacation read, this one is perfect. It's not too deep or heavy, and perfect for a plane ride or a free afternoon on the beach!
Overall rating for "The Vacationers": B+