The Vacationers by Emma Straub



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.

I don’t want to admit it, but I am disappointed with The Vacationers… or I just did not get it at all? I guess I was expecting a bit too much because Maria Semple reviewed it, “witty, bighearted...” but it didn’t really come close to that for me.

I appreciate that it regarded different family issues, like extra-marital affairs, but this is nothing new and I didn’t see a different approach to it. In fact the ending was incredibly predictable. But I did love Mallorca! Makes you want to go there…

Well there is one thing that I like about how it’s written, that it made you see how each character knew one other’s complexities by heart and it’s like a privilege to get to know them. But still the characters were not unforgettable.

2.5 stars

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