One the first books on my stack this summer (yes, this is a very belated post--I had to reread it before writing this) was Emma Straub's new novel, The Vacationers*. While I didn't get to sprawl out on a white sand beach to enjoy it, I did enjoy a lovely afternoon in a deserted bar drinking Moscow Mules and imagining I was in Mallorca with the characters from the book. As you can probably guess from the title, the setup for the novel is a summer trip and this one involves a large rented house filled with family and close friends for two weeks. The characters are at various crossroads--going to college, dealing with infidelity, trying to adopt a child--but like in real life, not everything is shared with the rest of household. The result is a fascinating microchosm that allows the reader to peer into the minds of people at many stages of life and see not only their inner thoughts, but also how their own issues affect their interactions with each other.
There is no single main character so if you don't relate to one personality, there is a good chance that another character is more your style, which I think makes The Vacationers ideal for a book club. I can imagine that just the conversation about which character everyone likes best could send your meeting into overtime. Plus, at only about 300 pages it is a length that most people can commit to finishing, no matter how busy their lives get. There are also quite a few descriptions of the food that is cooked, so if you want to create a snack menu that is linked to the book, you won't have to struggle to come up with ideas.
This novel is set during summer vacation, but you should not let the arrival of fall here in the real world dissuade you from picking it up. This is a book that would be equally enjoyable to read in the middle of winter, when you have only the memory of sunburns and sand in your toes. While the backdrop is beautiful and warm, it is really about the relationships and how life and age can change them. Some of the issues that plague the characters are resolved, but the ending doesn't solve all the problems and wrap up the result in a big bow. Rather the resounding feeling after you turn the last page is one of hope for the possibilities of the future.
Are you excited to discuss this book with your fellow readers? Plan your next book club meeting and then check out my new post on practically stylish for tips on what to wear to it.
*I received a free review copy of The Vacationers through Riverhead Books and Birchbloggers. All opinions are my own.