The Vacationers by Emma Straub | Rating: ★★★★★
Emma Straub has a way with words that makes her stories pleasant and intriguing; anyone who has read anything by her knows this. In her latest release, The Vacationers (out May 29th, 2014!), she proves all of this and more by opening up the pages of a family as they embark on a needed vacation in celebration of their youngest child’s graduation before they see her off to college.
The Posts are an incredibly believable family who bring more than just their materialistic baggage upon their travels. In each person lay an array of thoughts and troubles that make each of them come to life in their narratives. Sylvia is the youngest, having just graduated high school, and with her she brings a list of things she wishes to accomplish before heading off to university. Bobby is the oldest child and doesn’t spend a great deal with his family due to him living at quite the distance.
Tying up the Posts are Franny and Jim, who have recently hit a rocky patch in their relationship in recent months and Franny is determined to keep this a secret from most people, it seems. We’re left wondering what the fate of their marriage will be by the end of the novel and can’t help but to root for them, in spite of one major mistake one half of this relationship made before the evens of the novel.
Featured guests during this family trip include family friends Charles and Lawrence, an incredibly lovely married couple who are awaiting an adoption to start their own family, and the eldest Posts child’s girlfriend, Carmen.
Carmen isn’t exactly well liked by the family, for reasons that don’t make much sense to me, and I think she was my favorite out of each character we meet. She was very different from the others in a pleasant way that stood out and while I loved each character very much, I think she was and will be very underrated. I think she deserved a lot better and thought it was rather silly that the other characters focused on her age difference and the way she dressed rather than who she was as a person.
Our plot is simple: this vacation is taking place in a beautiful setting, in Spain, and will last two weeks. And let’s face it… two weeks can be either incredibly short or unbelievably long.
The Vacationers is a perfect summer read that is both beautiful and thoughtful. You grow attached to these characters and hope for the best for each of them, and there are moments where you’ll want to shake some sense into various characters. In particular, the men of the novel may, from time to time, need a little bit of a reality check. And in terms of what will fall into your lap, you will find romance and family dramatics that may be familiar to you. Sibling bonds will be put to test and the question of what will happen in Franny and Jim’s marriage is a major theme throughout the story.
Will everything be the same, by the end of the novel? Can relationships be patched up? Do Charlie and Lawrence get the chance to become parents? Will Sylvia complete her list?
Once the ball gets to rolling in The Vacationers, you’ll be asking yourself those questions and more. And while I don’t want to give away any spoilers, as the book hasn’t been released, I will say that the ending is very realistic and satisfying. Questions will be answered and you’ll be both sad, and happy, to see these characters go forward with their lives now that their vacation is over.
Emma Straub not only really cares for her characters, she really knows them — one can tell this immediately as they navigate the way writes a beautiful story that includes each characters thoughts and backstory without being overwhelming or underwhelming.
She manages to find an even ground and gracefully ties up each plot in ways that are beautiful and fulfilling. She really has a way to bring us into this world.
So upon the release date, I’d suggest grabbing something nice and cool to drink and take this book with you to the pool, the beach or somewhere that’s sunny. And dive into this lovely story.