Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Vacationers

Book 2 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from Jan. 1 - Jan. 5

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Summary (via Goodreads)
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 Opinion
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one.  It drew me in but it made me uncomfortable because I had that feeling that bad things were going to happen.  I was interested but didn't want to become invested because it was so negative and none of the characters were particularly likable.  There were a lot of issues going on; is that what family life is really like?

There were some interesting descriptions, such as saying a crowd "made Sylvia fold in half like a toy with dead batteries".  And I definitely related to the moment when Franny unexpectedly found herself laughing with Jim and then stopped herself because she needed to hold on to her anger and wasn't ready to do that with him yet.

I rated it in the middle because I was interested but also unsettled as I read.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"Like most things, sex got better with age until one hit a certain plateau, and then it was like breakfast, unlikely to change unless one ran out of milk and was forced to improvise."

"There was nothing in life harder or more important than agreeing every morning to stay the course, to go back to your forgotten self of so many years ago, and to make the same decision. Marriage, like ships, need steering, and steady hands at the wheel."

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