let’s review: the vacationers

vacaNot a whole lot happens in The Vacationers by Emma Straub, which is fitting. Rather, this novel puts its focus on the members of the Post family, who take a trip to Mallorca, Spain for a two-week vacation and break from normal life. Of course, each character is concealing something or caught in a tough spot, all which will rise to the surface during their stay in Spain. Franny and Jim, married for 35 years, must confront the recent ripple that has disturbed their still waters. Sylvia, in her last summer before leaving for college, must ask herself who she wants to be and what she’s looking for. Bobby, in tow with his older girlfriend no one else in the family seems to like, must face questions of commitment. And Franny’s best friend Charles and his husband Lawrence are waiting for the phone call that will change their lives.

The family dynamics and setup of this story reminded me a little of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, although less developed. The thing with character studies is they must be executed well to maintain long-term investment. But because the vibe of The Vacationers is lighter, the investment is also such. Still, I did enjoy the wry humor sprinkled throughout, and the slow build of resolve must have worked a little, because I did feel more attached to the characters and their stories by the end than I did when their trip began.

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