Ugh, I didn’t enjoy this book in the slightest, which I guess makes sense since it fills the Not My Wheelhouse square for Bingo. The Vacationers is the story of a family from New York that goes on vacation to Mallorca, along with their oldest son’s girlfriend, and the best friend of the wife and his husband. I would use names here to help distinguish between characters but I’ve honestly forgotten half of them already. Man, I just. . . I really hated this book.
There are several different subplots here. There’s the parents, who are fighting because Dad slept with an intern at his magazine and was then fired for it; the gay best friend and his husband, who are trying to adopt a baby; the son and his girlfriend, who are obsessed with working out and also want to borrow a lot of money from the parents; and Sylvia, the daughter, who is hoping to lose her virginity in Mallorca before heading off to college in the fall. Sylvia is the only character I liked. The rest of them are either deeply, deeply unlikeable (the parents, the brother), or totally bland. For example, here is what I know about the son’s girlfriend: 1. She is a personal trainer and is preoccupied with exercise and healthy eating; 2. She’s about 10 years older than her boyfriend; 3. Her boyfriend’s mother thinks she’s boring (she’s right). And I read hard for characterization of this girl, because I really wanted to like her. I read verrrrry carefully.
The Vacationers is this weird blend of literary fiction and beach read. If it had just stuck to the beach read side, it might have at least been a little more fun. It’s when Emma Straub tries to make things seem meaningful that it all goes off the rails. There’s no depth to the characters, no one to root for, other than Sylvia (and her plotline is mostly boring, as it involves practicing Spanish with her handsome tutor). It’s just a bunch of rich, boring people on vacation. There’s this moment at the end between the parents that resolves their issues, and I think it was supposed to be moving. It WAS moving, in the sense that I literally cringed while reading it because it was so saccharine and stupid that I was embarrassed to be reading it. If I hadn’t needed this to fill my Not My Wheelhouse square, I never would have finished this dreck, or even made it past the first two chapters.
I don’t know why I hate this particular kind of fiction so much, but I really, really do. I also don’t know why I keep trying to like it.
CBR10 Bingo: Not My Wheelhouse
Bingo 1: Brain Candy: The Stranger Game; The Book was Better?: Bridget Jones’s Diary; Snubbed!: How the Light Gets In; Not My Wheelhouse: The Vacationers; Birthday!: My Man Jeeves
Bingo 2: Backlog: La Belle Sauvage; Listicles: Rebecca; Throwback Thursday: The Lost Continent, Notes from a Small Island, and Neither Here nor There; Not My Wheelhouse: The Vacationers; And So it Begins: The Mysterious Benedict Society