New Fiction Friday: The Vacationers

9781594633881_p0_v2_s192x300I have always dreamed of traveling to Europe, and one day, I hope that I finally make it there. The Vacationers had been on my summer reading list and I finally finished it!  It centers on a family vacation on Mallorca, a Spanish island that’s in the Mediteranean, south of Barcelona. Franny and her husband Jim had been planning the trip, and happened to have a friend who was loaning them a beach house there for a few weeks during the summer. This is a dream vacation, promising to be fun and relaxing.

Vacationing with them are the couple’s two children, Sylvia, who has recently graduated high school and is heading off to Brown in the Fall, and her older brother Bobby, who is a real estate agent in Miami. Bobby’s long-time girlfriend, whom no on likes, is also along for the trip. Franny’s best friend Charles tags along, with his husband Lawrence. It’s quite a group, and the beach house fills up quickly – with guests, and drama.

In the beginning of the book I really didn’t like Franny.  Her husband of so many years had recently lost his job, just a couple of years shy of receiving his full retirement.  This is something that was devastating, which humiliated and humbled him. She is unforgiving and unrelenting in her scorn.  But in the beginning it isn’t revealed why he lost this job, and as the story progresses the truth is revealed and my opinion of Franny changes.  The first half of the book she is cold, edgy, and bitchy.  After the details of his firing are revealed, I felt sympathetic, understanding her ire.

It’s not the story itself that’s compelling, it’s the characters.  Their transformation is real story.  One character doesn’t change though.  Sylvia remains a hapless bystander to all the drama of the beach house.  She wonders, like a typical teenager, what is wrong with this family?  Emma Straub has quite a knack for creating great characters.  I read Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and loved that one too.

As the weather outside is beginning to cool, this was a “beach read” that made me long for more summer days!

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