Jewish folks love an exodus, and though the circumstances have shifted slightly from escaping biblical Egypt to a leisurely Florida sojourn, winter calls and we flock to the warmth. At least, that’s how it has always worked in my family. Yet much to my sister’s chagrin, we are not beach people. Cities work for Tells – we love to walk the streets until our feet are sore, check items off our cultural must-see lists, and then devour a good dinner because we’ve probably skipped lunch. So then, why do I automatically think ‘Florida’ when I think of family vacations? It’s because I can’t touch down at the airport without thinking of my Grandma Adeline greeting us at the gate, her skin already tanned from the glow of the sun. It’s because I can’t walk past a lunch spot without thinking of my Grandma Sandy cluttering the aisles by our table with shopping bags for us. It’s because I walk past a pool and recall that my siblings and I learned to swim here. It’s because, now that we are (becoming) adults, the calendar allots this one time of the year where we are all available and happy to come together for the entire journey. I feel warm inside just reflecting on it!
These four books take us on a journey not solely to a destination, but through the intricacies of the family dynamic. Amanda Eyre Ward’s The Jetsetters tells the story of three siblings who have been estranged from their mother, and the cruise excursion that unpacks the baggage (literally and figuratively) that they’ve been hiding from each other. The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han, comes to terms with the fact that though a summer beach home may not change, its inhabitants do. Dan Gutman’s The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable might seem like a zany choice with its fake assassins and save-the-world plot points, but this brother and sister duo traveling across the United States with their parents highlights the trope of turning any opportunity into an adventure! Finally, Imagination Vacation by Jami Gigot proves that you don’t always need to physically go somewhere to get in a bit of escape and fun, as long as you’re with the right people.