The Vacationers by Emma Straub

The best way to pretend you are on vacation while you are doing your daily grind is to read a book about people going on vacation, clearly.  The Vacationers is pretty refreshing, switching between several characters of a New York City family on a trip in Mallorca; parents Jim and Franny who are recovering from an affair, teenage daughter Sylvia who is in the sweet spot of age just between high school and college-dying to lose her virginity, older son Bobby who lives in Florida with his unwelcome girlfriend Carmen,  and Franny's best friend Charles and his younger husband, Lawrence, who are trying to adopt a baby back in the United States. TRICKY!

Each chapter is told as a day, over the course of two weeks. Its switching of voice between characters made it super interesting and sped by. I loved how each character had a set notion of what the other characters lives were like- and obviously were actually super different, just like in real life. I have been thinking about comparing ourselves to others a lot lately and how detrimental this is, so this book was such a funny anecdote for that. 


'There was nothing in life harder or more important than agreeing every morning to stay the course, to go back to your forgotten self of so many years ago, and to make the same decision.” -Emma Straub, The Vacationers 



I was a little bummed how each characters resolution tightly wrapped up by the end of the book considering real life isn't like that, but it was still a nice feel-good novel. I really liked the parents characters the most- I am really fascinated by marriages at this interesting turning point in their 50's when their family leaves home and how they adjust to that. Infidelity is a big theme in this book, and each character is approaching it at different ways.  

The layers of relationships throughout this book were fantastic; mother and child, new lovers, marriages new and old, life long friends, so on. Emma Straub hit the nail on describing so many relationships with quick lines- I loved it! While it has been popularly described a 'summer read' it had more depth than something that you pick up for a few days, consume, put down, and never think about again. Each character has a pretty strong dilemma that resonated with me at different times in my life, but coming together through different situations in this story. 


“They had chosen to make the leap and, having leapt, were delighted to find that the world was even more beautiful than they’d hoped.” - Emma Straub, The Vacationers
 


This is really great book for the in-between of wanderlust urges, if you are not wanting to commit to something all-consuming but still something light to digest, you need to buy your mom a gift for an event during the months of April-August, or if you need confirmation that your family isn't the only nuts one out there. It is refreshing to zip through a book about that could be about the family across the street with a rise and fall and resolution. If you read it, tell me your thoughts!