Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Title: The Vacationers
Author: Emma Straub
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Library Copy
Content Alert: sex and swearing

It was going to be the perfect vacation to Spain-- writers Franny and Jim were celebrating their thirty-fifth anniversary, their daughter Sylvia was graduating from high school, their son Bobby would join them from Miami, and Franny's best friend and his husband would make sure there were plenty of interesting things to do and plenty of good food to eat.

And then the news came out that Jim had slept with his assistant and gotten fired. Bobby decided to bring his annoying older girlfriend, Carmen, the one who was a personal trainer and wore "Juicy" sweatpants. The other couple is preoccupied and private, and Sylvia just wants to lose her virginity before heading off to college.

While the story was an entertaining read, I was struck throughout by the sense that the characters weren't especially relatable. It made wealthy New Yorkers seem like a breed apart, and not a good breed at that. Franny is haughty and annoying right up until the last chapter, and it was a little disappointing (spoiler alert) that things turned out so well for her in the end. In fact, the character I liked best was Carmen, who was no longer in the picture by the end of the novel.

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