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Book Review: ‘Vacationers’ for the strong willed reader

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By Brittany Miller – Collegiate Staff

18641982Who knew the perfect vacation included sibling rivalry, cougars, family dysfunction and wonderful moments of self-discovery.

In Emma Straub’s “The Vacationers” (304 pages, $20.75), that’s exactly what readers will discover in a witty, and heartwarming story as a family seeks their way to change, hoping for a wholesome outcome.
In “The Vacationers”, the Posts take their first family vacation in years in honor of Franny and Jim’s 35th wedding anniversary as well as their daughter’s graduation. It should be a great vacation or so we think anyways. The vacation includes their son’s cougar girlfriend, who Franny despises, and their daughter Sylvia seeking someone to take her virginity. All while their dear friend Charles and his husband attempt to keep peace in the home.

Straub brings readers a story that’s simply relatable to everyone. Through wisdom and wit, sometimes we need a disaster of a family vacation to finally come together, and learn more about the people around us and ourselves along the way. The journey is far from perfect, as Franny and Jim try to work on finding the love they once had for each other 35 years ago, Sylvia becomes her own woman, and Bobby, their oldest son, looks to expand identity beyond that of a juiced up athlete.

When I first began reading this book, I was uninterested in the way the story was presented, but I pushed through (as should you), and I’m truly glad I did. Despite Straub writing in a third-person narrative, I enjoyed the way the story switched views, allowing me to understand what was going on with all characters in the novel.

Though this was a Post family vacation, there were more people involved such as Charles and his husband, and Straub did this couple justice by giving them a happy ending. It was a great way to reward these characters for sticking by this family, and keeping the peace through the novel. I loved every character, with the exception of Carmen, Bobby’s the wicked, heartbreaking cougar girlfriend, and the way their stories ended was great considering the start of their journeys on the first page. “The Vacationers” is a good read for sure, though it’s not on my must read list.