ARC Review: The Vacation by M. M. Chouinard

Good Evening,

Happy Tuesday to you all. It dawned on me today that we’re very nearly at the half way point through the year. How has that happened? I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or if time is genuinely just going faster. The only thing I have achieved so far this year is getting ahead on my 2021 reading challenge. I really need to pull my finger out.

Book πŸ“–

I feel like I’ve said this about a few books lately which leads me to believe I am going through a phase; the cover of this book was what drew my attention. It seems that I have become a sucker for a lovely looking book cover. Which is a little bit like Russian roulette as you know; never judge a book by it’s cover and all that jazz. Thank you to @bookouture and @m_m_chouinard for this advanced copy of The Vacation in return for an honest review. The Vacation is due to be published on 27th May 2021 and you can get a copy here.

Description πŸ”–

What better way to spend Thanksgiving than with family, on vacation in Jamaica. It was intended to be a much needed break for everyone but unfortunately you can’t always leave secrets at home, they have a tendency to follow you.

Rose and Brendan are tackling their own individual demons and both are struggling even in paradise. When their three year old daughter goes missing from their villa, it couldn’t get much worse. Except as secrets start to spill about all their family on the trip, it becomes clear that one of them is responsible for Lily’s disappearance.

General Thoughts πŸ€”

During the first few chapters I had a bit of a sinking feeling that this was going to be a fictional re-write of the Madeleine McCain case but it took a few swerves very early on and I was hooked. I loved this book and I got swept away in the mystery and possibilities. I loved that there were so many options for what could have happened to Lily and I found it almost impossible to figure out the truth. I quite literally had suspicions about all of them because of the dark secrets they were all keeping from each other.

I really liked the angle of everyone having to look out for themselves. As doubts started to form and the characters slowly started to turn on each other, it became a bit like a really high stakes version of Cluedo. Did Anabelle do it in the kitchen with the candlestick or did Leo do it in the library with the lead pipe? The whole thing played out fantastically.

Characters πŸ‘­πŸ‘«πŸ‘¬

Initially I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the characters; 6 adults and 4 children are a lot to keep track of. That didn’t last very long though as the characters are written and developed so well, I soon became very familiar with their traits and relationships with one another. I won’t go into a tonne of detail about them all, but a few of them that really struck a chord with me were;

Rose – an obvious choice as the mother of Lily. Gosh my heart broke for this woman. Not only did she have no idea what happened to her daughter, she was having to deal with judgement from the rest of the group, the police and the media. Her mental health was suffering before the trip and inevitably came crashing down around her in Jamaica. She made a few poor decisions along the way, but nothing that anybody could judge her for.

Brandon – he was quite arrogant but there were moments where he displayed such outpouring of love for his children that I couldn’t help but empathise with him and like him. The way he treated his sister and brother in law rubbed me up the wrong way.

Bree – she is probably the character I flip flopped about the most. Her struggles with fertility made me feel really sad for her, but I did question her mental stability a few times. I thought that she was the type of person who would do almost anything to get a child of her own and it seemed to me that she let her own feelings get in the way of having good relationships with her niece and nephew.

Writing Style ✍️

Wow this lady knows how to leave a complex trail and have all us readers picking up bread crumbs trying to find our way. I always marvel at authors who are able to do this so successfully and I can only imagine they have whiteboards full of post it notes and adjoining lines and complicated plot stuff all over the place. I would 100% leave a plot hole somewhere I’m sure. As each secret was revealed, my theory was blown out of the water and more doubts were sewn. I felt like I was constantly lulled into a false sense of security to then have it snatched away from me.

The book is told through alternating chapters going between the days in the run up to the night Lily is discovered to be missing and the present tense starting from the night she goes missing. I loved that the story was racing to catch up with itself.

Conclusion & Scoring πŸŽ–οΈ

Needless to say, I fell a little bit in love with this book and with the author. I gobbled every word of this book up as quick as my eyes would let me. I loved everything from the plot line to the characters and I cannot wait to get others to read this book so I can discuss it with them. Absolutely fantastic book!


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