Blanche’s Book Club: ‘The Vacationers’.

Before I head into my latest read, I want to take a moment to say that my heart is with the family, friends and fans of Broadway star and musician, Nick Cordero, today. Cordero lost his battle with COVID yesterday after spending almost 100 days in the ICU.

I started following Cordero’s story about a week after he went into ICU and his wife, Amanda, started posting updates on Instagram and asking for prayers. She encouraged everyone to join her every afternoon and sing and dance to Nick’s song, “Live Your Life.”

There were many times when I joined her in singing and dancing, and I prayed several times that things would turn around for Nick. Sometimes, Amanda shared personal stories about how her and Nick met, what it was like when they were dating, and how he proposed. She shared stories about his career and the dreams they had for their new house in California, which was being renovated while he was in the ICU.

Their story sounded like one for the books; with legendary moments at the famous Rainbow Room and nights on the Broadway stage. Their new house was on Love Street, and their son, Elvis, turned one around day 60 of Nick being in the ICU.

Cordero starred in “Waitress” and “A Bronx Tale” and he was nominated for a Tony for his performance in “Bullets Over Broadway.”

To be honest, Nick’s story is what made me understand the threat of coronavirus. I find it almost comical when someone assumes they’ll be just fine if they get COVID. Nick was a professional singer and a dancer, at just 41 years old, with no previous conditions. COVID gave him blood pressure issues, permanent lung damage, and led to a leg amputation… and ultimately took his life.

If you’re struggling with whether or not you should wear a mask, think of Nick. If you’re not sure if you should leave the house for that errand or that party, think of Nick. If you’ve been following the rules and have been locked away since mid-March, watch Nick’s tap performance at the Tony’s — it’s brightened many of my days.

I wish I would have followed Nick pre-coronavirus, but I’m so thankful I learned about his life and I’m certain his legacy will inspire so many people around the world. May he rest in peace.

***

I was just telling my mom that books have been my compulsive quarantine purchase and I’m not mad about it — they are the only safe option for an escape these days.

The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “The Vacationers” by Emma Straub. Here’s the scoop:

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school.

The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

This book jumps right in at the start of vacation and the story is over as the characters board the flight home, which is an interesting concept. t first, I was a little caught off-guard, but I quickly just dove right in and I read this book in a single sitting.

If you think about a family vacation you’ve been on, it’s like a separate ecosystem, filled with the same issues you likely wanted to leave at home, but in a nicer place, right? That’s pretty much what happened for this family, and I honestly loved these characters. I’d read another book with them! As a side note, the food descriptions in this book are also fabulous — yum!

I’d read Straub’s “Modern Lovers” before this and I think she’s likely just an author I’m going to enjoy (I bought her newest book, but haven’t opened it yet). This book was perfect for summer if you’re into seasonal reading.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Undercover Bromance” (Bromance Book Club no. 2) by Lyssa Kay Adams.

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. 

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