The Vacationers by Emma Straub

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Summer is the best time of the year. For those of us who live in godforsaken places like the great state of Minnesota, it’s because there’s no snow. However, the most common reason people love summer is because it’s vacation time. Whether that vacation means three months sans bratty kids because you’re a school teacher or three months no homework, it still feels so, so wonderful. The same goes for the Post family, lead characters of Emma Straub’s newest novel The Vacationers.

The novel is split into 14 chapters, all of which follow one day of the two week vacation the Post family will be spending in Mallorca, a small island off the coast of Spain. Franny and Jim, parents of the Post family, are celebrating their thirty fifth wedding anniversary, while their recently graduated daughter Sylvia is looking for a way to lose her virginity in the Spanish sunshine. Bobby, Sylvia’s older brother tags along too, but brings his much older girlfriend Carmen who nobody apparently likes. Rounding out the group is Franny’s gay BFF Charles and his husband Lawrence. All of these fine people are crammed into a borrowed villa in the Mallorcan countryside, forced to enjoy each other’s company for two weeks.

The Vacationers is a quaint summer beach read. It’s the perfect novel for sitting poolside or on a tropical beach soaking up the sunshine. It’s ease of reading makes it a book that can be read in quite frankly a day. However as interesting as the Post’s summer vacation life in Mallorca tends to be, this novel will likely be hit and miss with most readers. Not a whole lot happens with the family we’re following for 300 pages. While there is way more to the eye than the plot synopsis lets on, that might not be enough to get readers invested in Sylvia and her family. Straub does a great job to write this story with consistency and flavor, while leaving out basically any possible backstory that could exist for the characters.

While there are sure to be a few readers that won’t appreciate the light, thin veiled story of the Posts and their two week vacation in Mallorca, there’s no denying that it isn’t a great novel. Straub has already made her mark in the literature world by releasing her third novel and landing it on the NY Times bestseller list. The Vacationers might not be a lit heavy journey, but it surely is one worthy of the few hours it takes to read through it. The more the reader invests into Straub’s newest novel, the more they’ll get back in enjoyment.

Rating: 7 out of 10 – Although the Post family seem boring and placid on the surface, there’s more to be had with The Vacationers than a dull two week narrative of their vacation. Soon the reader is thrown into a mishmash of family and personal drama, all while the family should be enjoying their sun soaked summer vacation. They may not be good at vacationing, but they sure are entertaining to when it comes to drama unfolding quickly.

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