The Vacation by M.M. Chouinard
Published: May 27, 2021
I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.
M.M. Chouinard writes crime fiction that is beautifully crafted. She sprinkles a little bit of herself in her characters, and you will feel how passionate she is from the first paragraph. A brilliant mind, incredible researcher, and delightful human, M.M. Chouinard was destined to be an extraordinary author. She is a modern-day Agatha Christie.
“Why did people get blessings they didn’t deserve?”
Brandon announces to his wife, Rose, that his sister, Bree, and her husband, Leo, have invited them and their friends, Matteo and Anabelle, to spend thanksgiving in Jamaica. Rose is hesitant. She’s anxious. But Rose tends to be worried about everything. Especially when it concerns their two young children, Lily and Jackson. But Brandon has decided they are going, so they go. Just after putting the children down for the night, the adults are sitting in the courtyard enjoying the balmy weather and some drinks- the unthinkable happens. And now, no one’s secrets are safe.
Holy cannoli Batman. I don’t even know where or how to begin this one.
Let’s start with the easy stuff, congratulations to M.M. Chouinard on what is sure to be a best seller. You tried something different, and I am here to tell you it worked. This book was incredible.
This book starts with a bang- and it doesn’t slow down for a second. The first chapter is guaranteed to hook you. I loved the way this story was told. I enjoyed the way time was used to paint the picture of things that happened. And let me tell you, M.M. Knows how to lay a crumb trail.
As we get to know each of the characters, it feels slightly overwhelming. We are meeting six adults and four children. But the distinctions quickly become evident, and pieces start falling in place.
Brandon is an alpha male; he is a successful doctor who gets what he wants no matter the cost. His wife Rose has trauma from her past, and as a consequence, she has had some mental health struggles. Together, they have two children, Lily and Jackson. From the outside, they are the perfect family.
Leo and Bree, Brandon’s sister, have been struggling for years to get pregnant. Bree is weighed down by the pain of another miscarriage. She feels defeated and broken. She wants to be a mother, wants to build herself that perfect little family- but it just won’t happen. Leo is brilliant but not savvy. He’s made some bad financial choices, which has left the couple in a tight situation.
Matteo and Anabelle have two sons and seemingly happy marriage. Sure, Matteo has secrets he would rather his wife not find out, but they are so glad. Hardworking and motivated, they decide going on this trip will be suitable for everyone. Who doesn’t love the beach?
The characters are so well done. Every aspect, trait, behavior, and habit is so intricately written. It’s obvious nothing was done unintentionally. As we get to know each of the characters, we start to realize that they each have things they have kept from the others. Or so they think.
Like the most intense game of Clue, the manipulation and willingness to protect oneself become center stage rather quickly. And as the truth comes out, the realization that no one is who they seem to become glaringly evident.
I have to be honest, and I didn’t love some of the characters. But I think that was the point. They were very human. Very selfish. And that is not something easy to write within the world of fiction. I found myself genuinely disliking these people, and as the pages turned, my emotions became stronger. That is powerful writing.
There is such a cleverly used element within this story that adds to the telling of this book. It’s fresh and raw. And it’s scary. But it’s also sincere. It was well placed and well-executed.
There is a very unexpected, emotional twist in this book that is sure to steal your breath away. I promise you will not see it coming, you will never guess it ahead of time, and as you attempt to process what you’ve just read, your heart will fall out of your chest. This is what thrillers are made of, folks.
My favorite aspect of this novel is that M.M. Chouinard clearly shows that the only truly in concern, indeed vulnerable beings, are children. And so often, they become victimized when they should have been protected. This is where fact meets fiction, which may be the most intelligently intertwined storytelling I have ever read.
Prepare yourself, this vacation is anything but refreshing.