Review: Vacation

Vacation Book CoverVacation
By Deb Olin Unferth
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
March 2010

The Short of It:

Beautiful, rhythmic prose that begs to be read aloud. Vacation is a treat for the brain that’s gone soft (mine).

The Rest of It:

You know how you feel after missing the gym for say a month…or maybe even two months? You feel sort of sloggy and wonky and a bit out of sorts? Well, I’ve been feeling that way lately with my reading. Not saying that I didn’t enjoy the books, quite the opposite, but my brain needed a bit of stimulation. Something different to get the brainwaves firing again. Vacation did just that.

Myers and his wife have lived a decent life, but one night, Myers notices that his wife has gone missing. Turns out, that every evening around the same time, she becomes “absent.” She tells Myers that she needs to work late, but what he finds out, is that she spends her evenings following Gray, an old classmate of his.  Myers immediately thinks the worst. In flashbacks we see how it used to be between them:

She had touched his face when he was tired, when he had another bad day at the office. He remembered that, the way she used to do that, the way she expected nothing back, it was gentle. As nice as rain. (31)

Myers, determined to get even, decides to follow Gray as he treks across the world, but has this to say about his wife before he goes:

She had arrived as one thing, and now, as he parted, she was another, some strange folded-up broken thing—and at last he had done nothing to stop it and at the most he had caused it all. (31)

What Myers doesn’t know is that his wife (who goes through the story without a name) has no idea who Gray is, and Gray has no idea who she is. They are complete strangers to one another. Myers decides to find Gray, who has left the country. He sends him friendly emails and the two get to know one another again. They decide to meet on Corn Island, so Myers packs his things and takes a “vacation.”

What Myers doesn’t know is that Gray is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor and has no idea where he is. So as Myers corresponds with Gray via email, the quest to find Gray becomes a bit of a joke. Additionally, Gray’s ex-wife is also looking for him and Gray’s daughter, who is really not his daughter, decides to seek out her true father who happens to be a dolphin un-trainer.

Wild, eh? This book is a roller-coaster of a ride. It takes you from one side of the world to another. There are natural disasters to contend with, dolphin rescues taking place, men struggling to find out who they really are, weird, island folk and cabbies with personality. It’s sounds like an awful lot to contend with, and it is, but it makes for one, satisfying read.

Source: Purchased

11 thoughts on “Review: Vacation”

  1. I’m not sure I 100% understood exactly what happens but I trust you and I’m willing to go along for the ride. (I feel like my brain is going soft too.)

    And OK … you need to tell me where you got the snow falling on your blog!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I’m typing this from my phone, but if you have WordPress, you can turn snow on thru Jan 4th by going to Extras on your Dashboard settngs.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. I went browsing at Book Soup in Hollywood, Ca. and Vacation had one of those “staff recommends” cards in front of it. Plus, I loved the cover.

  2. first, i have to tell you i jumped a bit when visiting your blog. i was innocently reading your review and then i thought i saw a BUG crawling on the left margin of my screen/your page. ha! it was a snowflake. cute. thanks for freaking me out.

    second, this book sounds slightly quirky but the language in the excerpts you posted is beautiful. not sure if it’s for me–what made you pick it up–the blurb, the cover, or a recommendation–or whimsy??

    1. I was browsing an indie bookstore and this book had one of those “Staff Recommends” cards next to it. That caught my eye. The blurb intrigued me and the cover closed the deal. It’s definitely odd and quirky but the writing is just beautiful. I read quite a bit of it out loud because it just felt right to read it that way. I liked how the words sounded together.

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