Summary and book reviews of The Vacation by Polly Horvath

The Vacation

by Polly Horvath

The Vacation
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  • Published:
    Aug 2005, 208 pages

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Book Summary

"At once poignant, funny, and wise, this book gives new meaning to the phrase, 'The best journeys never end.'"

When his mother decides on a whim to be a missionary in Africa and drags his unwilling father with her, Henry is left in the care of his Aunts Magnolia and Pigg. Henry's sure they dislike him and he's trying to keep his distance, but that becomes more difficult when Mag decides they should take a destination-less road trip. Mag, convalescing from an illness that makes her look like death, is downright crabby. Pigg, tense from driving, is becoming more assertive and less willing to submit to Mag's whims. And while they poke each other – literally – Henry is finding it hard to keep his resolution.
They go to Virginia Beach (it's too hot); try camping in the Everglades (Henry accidentally spends four days floating in a swamp); visit their daddy, Henry's granddaddy (Henry's never met him!); and lose Pigg to love in Oklahoma (what would the radio psychologist Daly Kramer say?) before they finally receive word that Henry's parents are coming back and will meet them in Tulsa to finish the trip with Mag and Henry. But his parents are bickering and Henry is in despair – until he surrenders to the road and decides to let whatever happens happen, but to be there in it all.
Complete with her signature cast of eccentric characters, absurd situations, and heartfelt moments, Polly Horvath writes an on-the-road epic like no other!

Aunt Magnolia's Idea

Fortunately, as the days went on, Aunt Magnolia's platelet test showed that she was on the rebound and her body had stopped all its indiscriminate destruction. We began to find her lying on the couch with a steely look of speculation in her eye. I, for one, did not like it and I could tell it was making Aunt Pigg nervous. It shifted the dynamics in the house. Instead of Aunt Pigg and Aunt Magnolia wary of me, suddenly it was me and Aunt Pigg wary of Aunt Magnolia. Aunt Pigg began to come up to me when I got home from school and say things conspiratorially like, "She's doing it again. She's thinking. What is she thinking about?"

We could not tell what Aunt Magnolia was thinking about. Although she was weak, it was apparent that her strength was returning. Her bruises were disappearing. Her gums had stopped bleeding. But she had a frightening glint in her eye, as if some angry thought was energizing her and feeding ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Horn Book

Bitingly funny. A celebration of the clarity that can come when one simply decides just to be.

Kirkus Reviews

....the steady flow of sour outlooks, ill-humored repartee and self-pitying comments is a bit much, even for Horvath. Some will laugh; some will be put off, Horvath fans included. But a new offering from the queen of offbeat is always a welcome holiday. (Fiction. 11-13)

School Library Journal - Connie Tyrrell Burns

This latest book, like its predecessors, bounces from the hilarious to the heartrending. Another hit for Horvath.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At once poignant, funny and wise, this book gives new meaning to the phrase, "The best journeys never end."

Reader Reviews

Am

Honest Review
I would recommend getting the book on tape of this and listening to it on a car trip. It is perfect for the entire family to enjoy listening to. It is very funny, yes, but notice the metaphors and messages embedded in this. The man who reads the book...   Read More

Will

The Vacation
I think this is an action packed book that will leave hanging and on the edge of your seat. Strap yourself in and get ready for a roller coaster.

Kelli

:)
This book was really fantastic full of adventure. I would recommend this book to every one of my friends.

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Beyond the Book

Polly Horvath has been writing books since she was eight. She grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She went to college in Toronto and lived in New York and Montreal before settling on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with her husband Arnie and her daughters, Emily and Rebecca. She has published many books for children which have been translated into many languages including, German, French, Thai, Japanese, Danish and Italian and she has won many awards including the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor.  

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