Book Review: The Vacationers

the vacationers (1 of 1)

Title: The Vacationers
Author: Emma Straub
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Audiobook

Summary (from Goodreads)
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 story had so much promise to be the perfect summer read. Family drama, a vacation to an exotic Island of Spain and multiple stories intermixing, but unfortunately, I was left with a “why was this written” feeling. To be brutally honest, I’m still not sure why this story was written. Was it terrible? Not exactly. Was it good? No.

The book started by introducing all the different players in the story. You could feel tension building and little bits and pieces of the stories came to light. But then it just kept slowly building and the big revelation was really nothing. It just sort of fizzled out and I remember literally saying out loud, “that’s it?” I also wasn’t sure the point of the minor characters, especially the rental home owner at the end. It was just petty and out of place. At times the writing felt forced. Like the author had to describe every minor detail of what they were doing and feeling, when it was clearly implied. I don’t need a description of peeing and such.

The saving grace of this book was the narrator. I’m pretty sure if I’d been reading it, I probably would have put it down, but the narrator kept my interest and at least saved me from another DNF.

Having read reviews from people on this book now, it’s pretty mixed and they would suggest her other stories are fantastic, so I’m not writing this author off, but this was not the book for me.

2 Stars


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