The Vacationers – Emma Straub

4 stars

Image result for the vacationers

How fun is this cover art?! Emma Straub is known for writing captivating “beach reads”, as they call them. This is my first book written by her and I was not disappointed. Upon completion of this one, I purchased two more of her books which also happened to both be on sale at my local bookstore; Modern Lovers and Other People We Married (and yes, the covers are just as cute as this is). Another side note, I’ve never really liked the term “beach read” because to me it insinuates that there isn’t much substance. I prefer to call them easy reads that grab your interest. This book was very easy to get through, in part because of how well it is written (I finished in 2 days). The storyline was light but it kept my attention the entire time with just the right ratio of drama to entertainment to fiction. If you’re looking for a read that doesn’t weigh heavy on your heart (I personally need these to give myself a break from the ultra emotional books I tend to get consumed by) and one that has a happy ending for mostly every character involved, this is the one.

Franny and Jim Post along with their adult children Bobby and Sylvia are spending two weeks on the Spanish island of Mallorca as a last hurrah before Sylvia heads off to college. Also joining them is Franny’s fabulous best friend, Charles [whom she puts on a higher pedestal than her own family] accompanied by his husband Lawrence. Oh, I almost forgot about the most disliked guest of the group: Carmen, Bobby’s personal trainer girlfriend who is 10 years his senior. Can you tell how entertaining two weeks with these people will be? What I enjoyed most was the family dynamic among them all. It was hilarious chaos in every way you could imagine and pure dysfunction at its finest. It’s like a train wreck you just can’t look way from.

Without giving away too much, I’ll bring you up to speed with the fam:

  • Franny Post: She wears the pants in the family. Eh no, she actually wears the WHOLE outfit. She is dominating, demanding, and tightly wound in every way possible. Yet,  there is a side of her that you just know wants to let loose. She resents her husband and dreams of gauging out his eyeballs (read below to find out why). She adores her children but adores her best friend Charles even more.
  • Jim Post: He’s secretly hoping this trip will save his marriage to Franny, but isn’t hopeful. In his mind, he’s already splitting up the assets back home in New York City. An affair that cost him his job may or may not have occurred, but you didn’t hear it from me.
  • Bobby Post: A Miami real estate broker turned personal trainer, Bobby lives in the family shadows. Knowing his family doesn’t care for Carmen too much, he comes around only when necessary. He may be dating a 40 year old but he still relies on the financial support of his parents. He also joins Franny in the resentment of his dad.
  • Sylvia Post: She doesn’t really care to be on this vacation, but what else does she have to do besides party with her recent high school grad friends before they split off to their admitted colleges. All she really cares about is losing her virginity before moving to college. She resents her dad but doesn’t care about what happened beyond the hushed whispers overheard among her parents.
  • Charles: The apple of Franny’s eye and her lifelong best friend, Charles walks on water. He’s more of an accessory character, but his insight and comments are much needed to bring a beam of light to this story.
  • Lawrence: Charles’ younger husband, he’s also an accessory character but their relationship is entertaining. He wishes he didn’t have to compete with Franny for his husband’s attention. Oh, and he also wants a baby pronto.
  • Carmen: As Bobby’s much older girlfriend of nearly 7 years, the side-eye looks and standoff-ish vibe from his family do not go unnoticed. She definitely does not want to be on this vacation but she bites her tongue. She doesn’t want children and spends more time doing squats and sit ups than anything else

I’m telling you, combine these personalities and flaws and it makes for a real entertaining two weeks. I loved that Emma Straub made you feel like you were on the vacation alongside the group; actually, it’s more like being on a windy road with twists and turns that keep you on the end of your seat. Her writing is very real and relatable: everyone goes on family vacations that don’t turn out how you expect it to. Her writing gives a voice to the issues we all face in life; dysfunctial family relationships, betrayal, forgiveness, laughter, and making the most of your life. As the summer season is right around the corner, I highly recommend grabbing The Vacationers for a fun and light read. It’s the perfect accessory to join you on the beach, at the pool, or wherever it is you’re vacationing!

 

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