What We're Reading Now: 'The Vacationers' by Emma Straub

I’ve been moaning about wanting the perfect summer read for a while now (let’s not count the number of posts I’ve mentioned it in, mkay?). Everything was falling a teensy bit short of expectations: a flat character here, a lame plot twist there, something always sitting a bit wrong. I’d all but dashed my hopes for the season when Stephan came across this one, emailing me immediately about having the book for me / this blog / any upcoming trips / summer days / lazy afternoons / quiet moments by the pool / longish hours on the plane / do you get what I’m saying?

I didn’t want Stephan to get a big head, thinking he was my only book-friend in this office so I wagged my finger, chiding him, “Maybe someone else wants to give me a book this week.” The Vacationers would have to wait, or so I thought.

And then…

Well…

It didn’t. Emma Straub’s bright blue cover stared and me and I stared at it, and suddenly I was 100 pages in, ignoring phone calls and avoiding my emails. I couldn’t stop. Stephan is right. It’s perfect.

It’s witty and dysfunctional and it hurts — in that the familial relationships are full of deep-seated betrayal and longing but also in that my cheeks are sore from suppressing giggles on my morning subway ride.

I asked Stephan for his pitch for why it’s a Summer Must-Read and, because Stephan is Stephan, he came up with the best answer possible (which I am sure to just regurgitate once I’ve finished quoting him): “It’s kind of like a Jonathan Tropper novel in that it’s super-readable and funny and a total page-turner, but it also has a lot of smart things to say about relationships and love and big messy families. It’s light but not just empty calories — ideal for the beach!”

It is super-readable. Very funny. The pages turned very quickly. You should bring it to the beach.

There’s really no way to re-say, much less out-do, what Stephan said so I won’t. Just know we highly recommend it for whatever summer activity is heading your way. The Posts, the family at the heart of the novel, will quickly feel like your family and their everyday struggles will feel like your own.

What about y’all? Found any other books just dying to be stuffed in a beach bag?

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