Book Review: The Vacationers by Emma Straub


The VacationersThe Vacationers by Emma Straub
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary: 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.



I chose this to read as a diversion during a weekend fast. It was a quick read (I got through in a less than day) and I liked the beginning and end more than the middle. Jim and Franny Post decided to vacation for two weeks in Mallorca as a last family holiday before daughter, Sylvia leaves for college. Their son, Bobby and girlfriend, Carmen are along for the trip as well as Franny's BFF Charles and his husband, Lawrence. The setting, a loaned house of Gemma, a friend of Charles's, is spectacular and so is Mallorca in general. Enter, Joan (pronounced Joe-aahn) to tutor Sylvia in Spanish, while they're on island and the cast is basically complete. What follows is all sorts of revelations about tension between Jim and Franny care of an affair and Jim's unplanned retirement. Sylvia's on a quest to vanquish her virginity due to a hookup between her former BFF and her crush, some tertiary angst over a drunken indescretion at a graduation party much discussed on social media. Bobby is in financial trouble and a dead end relationship with Carmen. Charles and Lawrence are anxious in varying degrees about becoming parents. Of all the characters, I liked Charles and Lawrence best. They weren't perfect but it was nice to see their beginning a family juxtaposed to the weather worn Posts family. The middle of the book felt like it lagged a bit but it's a vacation sort of book so it felt like that kind of lull. I did like the ends for everyone and it didn't bother me that it ended more hopeful than it began. In the end, the Posts left more baggage behind than they took with them so I think it was a good vacation.

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