"The Vacationers" by Emma Straub & Plum Bistro’s Mac & Yease
The Vacationers by Emma Straub follows the Franny and Jim Post on a two-week vacation in Mallorca with their two children, Sylvia and Bobby, Bobby’s girlfriend, and Franny’s best friend and his husband. Mallorca, an idyllic Spanish island, is the perfect contrast for a family trip fraught with simmering tensions. Each character is harboring their own secrets and motivations, but as the two-week vacation progresses, close-kept truths are inevitably revealed, and friends and family alike must negotiate the consequences.
The Vacationers has everything I look for in a summer book: the story is intriguing, the pacing is superb, and each sentence has been polished to a high gleam — enough so that it’s hard to put The Vacationers in the category of a ‘beach read,’ although the framily dysfunction of the Posts and company would be your perfect poolside companion.
The most surprising reader criticism I saw leveled at The Vacationers is that the characters were unlikable, but this could be a due to Straub’s storytelling method — at some point or another, the story is told from each character’s perspective. As a result, the reader is privy to all of the thoughts (kind and unkind) and regrets (or lack thereof) lurking within each character’s mind.
But whatever flaws or harbored grievances each character was revealed to have was what made the characters so human to me. It is these rampant imperfections that make Straub a master storyteller as she artfully captures the struggles bound up in what it means to be a family, how hard it can be to have real and honest relationships.
For a pairing, I had to put The Vacationers with Plum Bistro’s Mac & Yease, the best vegan mac and cheese I’ve ever had — and possibly the best non-vegan mac and cheese I’ve ever had. The Vacationers would be equally at home by the pool or in a book club, while Mac & Yease would satiate any mac and cheese craving. Both give all the satisfaction of giving into the craving with none of the guilt.
[Editor's note: The recipe is complex, so instead of reproducing it here, we recommend you get it straight from the source at the link above.]