Monday, June 22, 2015

Book review: 'The Vacationers'

When it comes to summer reading, beachy books tend to be among my favorites. I don’t know if it’s being in tune with the season or just a wanderlust sort of thing since I live in the Midwest, but I love reading about beach getaways. Which is precisely the reason I chose to add The Vacationers to my summer reading list, and probably why I zipped through it so quickly. I read it after The Girl on the Train and it was the perfect juxtaposition of the dark mystery novel.

The Vacationers is about a not-so-close family that takes a vacation to Mallorca, Spain, to spend a week together in a friend’s home. You know from that much that there’s bound to be drama. The story is told from third person and alternately focuses on each family member throughout. Franny and Jim are supposed to be celebrating 35 years of marriage, but it’s seems there’s not much to be celebrated by the time the plane leaves. Sylvia has just graduated from high school and is looking to check a few things off her bucket list before she goes to college in the fall, which includes doing more than studying with her Spanish tutor, Joan. Her older brother Bobby brings his long-time girlfriend Carmen, much to his family’s disappointment. And Franny’s best friend Charles brings his partner Lawrence, who spends most of the vacation working and thinking about the baby they’re trying to adopt and whether Charles really wants it.

Many plots are happening at once, but thanks to Emma Straub’s ability to write with clarity and continuity, it never gets confusing. She covers serious topics that many families face and takes a deep look into the reality of relationships, all without losing her sense of humor. There are a few awkward scenes and dialogue, but overall it’s a compassionate picture of the hardships that can tear families apart, but ultimately bring them closer.

The Vacationers isn’t the best summer book I’ve read, but it is a really good one and I’ve already recommended it to several people. It’s an easy read without losing its substance, which not all authors can do. If you’re looking for your next book to read by the pool, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed this one.   

Have you read anything good lately? What are your go-to summer books? 

P.S. 7 books to read this summer, The Girl on the Train and Crazy Rich Asians

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