The Vacationers; Emma Straub
Riverhead and Penguin Audio– May 2014
In this story the Post family of New York is heading out for a (2) week family vacation to the Spanish island of Mallorca, hoping to enjoy its white sandy beaches and picture perfect blue waters. Jim and Franny are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary and, their daughter Sylvia has graduated from high school. Also joining them is their older son, Bobby, and his unlikeable girlfriend Carmen. Also joining them is a longtime friend of Frannys – Charles and his husband Lawrence. Sounds great right? Not so fast.
The vacation gets off to a rocky start with Jim, age 60, suddenly retired (early). He’s just confessed to Franny that he’s had a fling with an intern at the company where he worked. But it’s not just Jim who has issues, each of the other characters has some drama going on in their lives as well. All of this ramps up the tension and pretty much eliminates the possibility of anything close to a peaceful, idyllic vacation.
Family dysfunction is running high in this novel. This was a fun read for me, even though the characters did feel somewhat stereotypical. It made me thankful to be far beyond the whiny-teenager days as a parent. Funny at times, insightful in ways as well, the author creates a good balance of the highs and lows of family life. One final thought, after reading this story, you may just rethink how and with whom you spend your next vacation.
The audio version is read by Kristen Sieh; she did a nice job.
3.5/5 (Edelweiss and Penguin audio)