September 20, 2014

The Vacationers - Emma Straub

The Vacationers book cover
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Publication Date: May 29, 2014
Source/Format: Edelweiss || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (from Goodreads)

Since we’re well into summer, it seems pretty timely to read a book set in an exotic location. Am I right or am I right? The Vacationers seemed like just the ticket, especially as it’s about a family who goes on vacation in Mallorca for a stretch. I’ve never been to Mallorca per se, nor have I ever really thought about visiting, but I do like traveling when I read my books so I didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to read this!

Here are the three main thoughts I have about The Vacationers, organized in list form because it’s the only way I could keep this neat:
  • Mallorca sounds like a place I’d like to visit! As previously mentioned, I’d not really thought about this place. Ever. But after this book? I think it sounds like a vacation spot that’s right up my alley. The way it’s described gave me the following impression: a place where you can really get some R&R in, surrounded by beautiful scenery, where you can both indulge in solitude and company. Straub really convinced me I’d want to visit, and that’s already good reason to like this novel. 
  • Relationships are a very interesting part of life – whether with family, friend or a romantic partner. What I think really had me interested was exploring the family dynamics in this novel. It felt like a snapshot into the lives of this family – Franny, Jim and their children. Readers will sense the history and nuances between the characters, and even experience a bit of it for themselves. Straub really takes a look at what this family is like, describing them as if they were real people that she knew. I also liked that there were a few other people – friends and romantic partners – who added something extra to the mix. 
  • There’s something missing. This might be because it’s only a brief look into the lives of these characters, really. Or it could have something to do with the fact that they’re displaced from their natural habitat of Manhattan and put in the unfamiliar terrain of Mallorca. But sadly, there was a definite detachment from these characters and their tale.  
While there are definitely positive things about The Vacationers, it was simply an average read to me. I did like how the family dynamic was explored, but I do wish there had been a touch more to it than just these two weeks of vacation. Bonus points for the great setting, though!


  1. Oooh looks like fun! (Though really, all you need to say to convince me to go is "delicious bread, pasta, and pizza" - and that you did!) I must say though, I'm really curious about the Beanie Babies hunt! I loved collecting them as a kid, and I'm pretty sure my box of like 80 of them are still at my parent's house. They used to be ALL the rage! I didn't realize people were still collecting them so yes! Please share that story sometime! :)

  2. I wish I could go! So sad I moved :/

  3. Ah! San Gennaro is one of my favorite Fall events! I remember going for the first time last year with my UNV class, and being obsessed ever since.


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