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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Vacationers by Emma Straub~★★★★

Author: Emma Straub
Title: The Vacationers
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has just graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also assure an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. It promises nothing short of perfection. 
But the problems of home are not so easily left behind: Sylvia's brother, Bobby, brings the older girlfriend his mother has never liked, and Franny's best friend, Charles, and his husband have their own problems to work out while simultaneously playing peacekeepers for the Posts. 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 reveal and those we try to hid, of the ways we tear one another down and build one another up again, and the bonds that bring 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. The Vacationers is irresistibly funny and enchantingly warm as it shows us the wonderful, messy truth about family, friendship, and love."  

Taryn's Review: Going into this book, I didn't realize it would center around infidelity. Not exactly an ideal theme for relaxed reading, as the cover lured me to believe, but surprisingly I found this book to be a real page-turner for me.

Emma Straub is a strong writer. At moments I found myself completely focused on the story and couldn't want to read more of the book. I stayed up too late to keep reading just one more chapter! I appreciate that messiness that was in this book; this wasn't a perfect family vacation in any way. These were people dealing with some heavy issues in a gorgeous setting. I loved Franny and Charles's interactions and I can think a few times were I laughed out loud at a witty comment Charles made. Sylvia was a little bit overly angsty at moments, but nonetheless entertaining. Bobby and Carmen weren't as interesting as the other characters, but not terrible, either. Jim was my least favorite character, mostly because I'm not sure I felt like he was remorseful for what he did but more so that he was homesick for the way his life was before his infidelity. Lawrence was a fun side character to have around.

I loved this book...until the ending. This book felt really raw at times, yet the ending felt completely wrong and was sufficiently sugarcoated for a happily-ever-after. I don't think this book needed that type of ending and I was so disappointed. Perhaps a glimmer of hope amidst the brokenness that things might be alright would have felt more natural than what Straub offered the readers.

Straub has a talent for writing and that really carried the book into another level more me, but damn it sucked to be completely shocked at how much I hated the ending of the book and how rushed it felt. However, I will definitely pick up another book by Straub despite the lackluster ending of this book.

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