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Friday, August 8, 2014

The Vacationers: A Novel

Today's post is an open love letter to Emma Straub on the occasion of her novel, The Vacationers.

Dear Emma,

We met recently at the Mashable Reads book club where we all gushed about your novel, and you are just fabulous. It helps tremendously that your book is one of the most fantastic things I have read this summer, but you are also so fun. I told someone that I don't even want to get married, but I would do it if you agreed to be my maid of honor. (Sorry, Laura [my sister]. Emma wins.)

I now have to do a quick summary of the book for my readers, so don't go away. There's more.

The Posts head out for a two-week vacation in Mallorca. It sounds dreamy, and the island certainly is, but the family is dealing with their own demons. Franny and Jim, the parents, are in the process of separating due to a poor decision on Jim's part. Sylvia, a recent high school graduate, wants to simultaneously ignore the drama at home in New York while also losing her virginity before college. Her older brother by a decade, Bobby, brings his girlfriend Carmen along only to make her the scapegoat of a whole host of issues. And the family friends Charles and Lawrence, happily married, are anxiously awaiting adoption news. As their inner demons bubble to the surface, they must face them all head on since they are trapped on a European island together.

Back to you, Emma I absolutely loved this book. It was a novel. Like, a meaty, sink-your-teeth-into-it, enjoy it, smile at it, laugh at it, not-put-it-down novel. A novel in the best sense of the word. I loved this family and I wanted them to just work it out. Like, come on, guys. Seriously. As I mentioned at book club, I really felt this was Sylvia's story. I know it's told from everyone's perspective and no one's at all, but it seemed it was truly a story about Sylvia discovering who she is, what she believes, and what her identity is, specifically her romantic identity. She never wants to become her parents (and really, who does at age 18?), but she wants a grand gesture from someone handsome and smart and funny and everything. Oh, Sylvia. I can't wait to see who you become as a 30-year-old.

I also completely felt as though I was in Mallorca. It was painted as such a beautiful and realistic picture that it felt so real, and a piece of me wished I had been able to read this book on vacation (starting tomorrow!) at the beach. I couldn't though, obviously, because I had book club and I got to meet you and I just think you are the bees knees and I really want you to finish another book right this second so I can read it. Anyway, back to the exotic location of the story. It was a perfect fit and it was a character unto itself. I really want to go there now.

All of this to say, Emma, is that I feel we are meant to be best friends even though you don't even know my last name or may even remember me at that. It's okay. We'll get through this. As long as you write another novel soon. If you take too long I may have to switch loyalties and go back to true crime and other murder mysteries. You don't want that, now do you?

xx,

Nicole

Hard copy for purchase below.

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