Review: The Vacationers by Emma Straub

vacationersHere’s the description from

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: 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 show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold 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.

When I picked up The Vacationers, I honestly wasn’t that impressed.  It seemed like just another family drama.  But then my opinion changed, which was not expected.

With its title, I’m sure many people have assumed it’s a great vacation read.  And it truly is.  Just not your typical light-hearted vacation read.  Yes, there’s the gorgeous and envy-inducing setting of Mallorca, but the characters and their goings on are definitely not how I picture a family on a trip together.

There is tension in that vacation house, and there are secrets.  There is heartache and hope for forgiveness.  That makes for a very interesting read.

One of my favorite characters was not actually part of the family.  Bobby (the son) brings his girlfriend Carmen with him, and it doesn’t take a genius to notice how little his family thinks of her.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her.  No matter how hard she tries to help out, to make conversation, to be accepted, she is still an outsider, and she knows it.

It you love a good story about family dynamics, this is the book for you.

Title: The Vacationers
Author: Emma Straub
Date of Publication: 2014
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Copy


About Kelly

Hi! My name’s Kelly. I’m a twenty-something gal from Buffalo, NY. Mom to a little dog named Peabody and a slightly evil cat named Archie. Engaged to the best dude ever. I love books and craft beer! I also love all things France and francophone and have a degree in French Language and Literature from Buffalo State College. My blog used to be called Kelly’s France Blog, but I finally decided it needed a change because I wasn’t posting about French things nearly as often as I used to! You can still see all my imported posts on A Book and a Beer, or you can visit my original blog at
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