The Vacationers by Emma Straub

The Vacationers by Emma StraubRemember last spring and summer when everyone was talking about The Vacationers by Emma Straub? When it was referenced in several magazines as a summer must-read or a perfect vacation read? And the chances of getting it from the library were slim to none? Well, finally my number came up and I got it from the library.

It took me about a week to read The Vacationers. For me that is a long time to spend on a book that is neither complex nor lengthy. I spent most of that time thinking I was missing something or that I just didn’t get it. The Vacationers is a very simple story of a family on vacation. Each character has his or her own personal struggle or secret to deal with, but not of it is startling or revealing. In fact, it was kind of boring.

So why all the hype about The Vacationers? Marketing and timing. It was the perfect, non-controversial book to throw at thousands of unsuspecting buyers for a good summer vacation read. It does not take to much effort to read. There are no complex story or character nuances to keep track of. And most of all, it really couldn’t offend anybody. It was just sort of there.

Who would like this book? Well, according to innumerable magazines, just about everybody who’s going on vacation or dreaming about it. But from where I sit, many people may like this book – it’s completely innocuous. And I don’t think many will hate it. Overall, i can’t see it provoking a strong reaction from anyone. For that try Herman Koch’s Summer House With Swimming PoolFor another look at a family vacation where secrets really do come to light try Tigers In Red Weather, which I highly recommend.


  1. I haven’t read this book, but I was pretty suspicious of the marketing blitz last year. It doesn’t seem like my kind of read, and I’m glad to hear someone with similar taste confirm that idea.

  2. I’ll go with my original instincts and continue to avoid this book. I don’t usually go for books that are marketed as great vacation reads, or beach reads. When I go on vacation I want something I can really sink my teeth into. A lot of people did seem to like this book, though.

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