Let the 2014 summer beach read season begin! I won THE VACATIONERS: A NOVEL from Shelf Awareness and Riverhead Books and here is my review. First of all, lucky me, I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s easy to equate summer with light breezy reads, but author, Emma Straub takes the subject of the dysfunctional family to a new level of ironic humor and creates a cast of characters that you want to know personally. I really spending some time with them, even the ones I found incredibly annoying. They were clever, fresh and highly developed.

The Post family along with some friends leaves behind the humidity of Manhattan for a two week fun-filled vacation on the beautiful Spanish island of Majorca. Along with the bags they’ve packed, each is dealing with their own carry-on drama and secrets that are bound to come to light under the bright island sun.

Franny and Jim Post are supposed to be celebrating 35 years of marriage, but that’s upstaged by the fact, Jim has been shown the door from his decade’s old job for an indiscretion with a much younger woman. Frazzled Franny’s BFF, Charles and Lawrence are keeping her barely glued while secretly trying to adopt a child back in the states. Daughter, Sylvia has graduated high-school, about to start at Brown, but determined to lose her virginity before leaving the island. Son Bobby is visiting with girlfriend of ten-years Carmen, a woman everyone despises, including him.

Everyone quietly goes about their holiday, lounging by the pool while an unspoken undercurrent of tension threatens to erupt in the house. Occasionally, the guests venture to town or the beach, but those trips aren’t without their own potential for disaster – the opportunity for the occupants to plunge to their deaths. The house sits high on top of a mountain with an amazing view. But they have to navigate a death defying twisting and turning one lane road without guardrails in their stick shift rental car in order to get up and down.

“Franny hadn’t driven a stick in several decades, but those muscle memories never really went away. Jim offered a three-minute refresher course, slightly alarmed at the thought of Franny driving on foreign roads, but she insisted that she knew what she was doing. Sylvia crossed herself as she lowered her body into the car. … Franny put her left foot down on the clutch, and her right foot on the gas, but the movement was not fluid as it once had been, so many years out of practice, and the car lurched forward. Franny’s face purpled, and Sylvia screamed.”

Author Emma Straub previously wrote LAURA LAMONT’S LIFE IN PICTURES and OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED. In lesser hands the characters and scenarios could turn slapstick, but from the beginning I cared about them. I found myself coming between the sibling bickering and just wanting to smack Jim a couple of times.

There are so many wonderful novels to read this summer, but you most definitely must read Emma Straub’s, THE VACATIONER’S: A NOVEL.  I enjoy traveling on vacation, but what I really love is coming home and reliving all the moments spent away.

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