Thursday, 11 September 2014

'Everybody clap your hands, get up and dance...'

Review: The Vacationers by Emma Straub

This was a book that I was excited to read, as I had read so many good reviews. I actually had it on my 'save for later' list on Amazon- which, by the way, is so long that I think there are books on there I might get to by the time I'm 30- so when I found it in my local library I was pretty happy and took it home for a light, enjoyable weekend read. The Vacationers, is, as the title suggests, about a vacation to Mallorca taken by a group of New Yorkers. The chief organisers are Franny and Jim Post, married for decades, and also along for the ride is their daughter Sylvia, son Bobby and his girlfriend Carmen and Franny's best friend Charles and his husband Lawrence. 

This is was a weird read. I expected it to be an easy, light summer read, and that it was, but it had no atmosphere. It did not have that dreamy, escapist summer atmosphere that I long for in a holiday read (not that I read it on holiday, but you see what I mean). I wanted romance and fireworks and that beautiful summer haze, of which I only got about half. Everyone on this holiday seemed bored, and by effect I became a little bored too. 

I liked the ending; that managed to sum up how a holiday can change people in a way that the story really did not. The setting was also well described, so that I really could picture it in front of me, even if I did not get a sense of that holiday atmosphere. The descriptions of the Mallorcan cuisine were so good they almost made me dribble. 

However there was too much that I disliked. There wasn't much character development; I didn't really care for them, apart from the one character I really wasn't supposed to like, Bobby's girlfriend Carmen. Actually I lie, I did like Sylvia, but probably because I identified with her, not because she was a well rounded character, because even she had only one vein, which was wanting to be a different person for college. I liked the book, I didn't hate it or throw it across the room, but it wasn't a satisfying escapist read the way I thought it would be. I think that the author tried too hard to make the situation and characters seem real and honest, and instead made them boring. It's rare that I do a less than positive review, but I don't know, this one just confused me a little. 

What was it about? Family, growing up, moving on. 

Would I recommend? No, I don't think so. 



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