The Vacationers by Emma Straub [Book Review]

The Vacationers by Emma Straub was touted as the summer read back in 2014, but is it really worth reading? Read my review.

I wanted to love The Vacationers by author Emma Straub, and in the beginning, I enjoyed getting to know the characters. But the last half of the book lacked substance, leaving me to give this particular book three out of four stars. Read the synopsis, as well as my review, below:


For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole. []

My Review (originally from November 2014):

The Vacationers by Emma Straub came highly recommended as a great summer read. Like many “beach books,” I flew through it, and in the beginning, I enjoyed getting to know the Post family with all their flaws.

The story begins in the middle of a family drama, and just like any family vacation, not every moment is filled with bliss. The setup is so good that it seems like there would be a lot of plot to work with. But, even with the tense family dynamic, nothing really happens. That delicious setup is wasted in the last half of the book. And what’s worse is these great characters become so frustratingly annoying that finishing the book feels like a chore. As usual, I encourage you to make your own decision, but I might consider skipping The Vacationers if I were you. (I was generous in giving it three stars, but I liked the book’s first half, which should count for something!)

Author Emma Straub discusses The Vacationers: