Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Vacationland” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Northern Trilogy #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,573 ratings  ·  329 reviews

On a lake in northernmost Minnesota, you might find Naledi Lodge—only two cabins still standing, its pathways now trodden mostly by memories. And there you might meet Meg, or the ghost of the girl she was, growing up under her grandfather’s care in a world apart and a lifetime ago. Now an artist, Meg paints images “reflected across the mirrors of memory and water,” much as
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 25th 2013 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Vacationland, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sandra Yes, if you like quirky characters who ARE the humor, just in who they are and how the author normalizes the rather bizarre aspects of life in the rem…moreYes, if you like quirky characters who ARE the humor, just in who they are and how the author normalizes the rather bizarre aspects of life in the remote north. I grew on the up on the Canadian border of MN, and the characters Sarah created really resonate with me--in my mind their faces became so many people I actually knew growing up. Fascinating, counter-culture, unconventional individualists who don't give a rip about the outside world or the shock value their normal lives would create for uninitiated outsiders. Truly, one has to be a bit of a nut case to survive in the far north and love it enough to stay! I just loved this book! (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,573 ratings  ·  329 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Vacationland
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's not a mystery or a thriller but a story about a man and his granddaughter and all the people that come into their lives, throughout their lives. Along the way there is adventure and a little romance and a lot of beautiful stories. Very well done. ...more
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
There's something so appealing about an old resort closed down for the season, or closed down forever. As we wander among the cabins and faltering foundations, past the lodge and the camp store, peering into the windows as we go, we always imagine more good times than bad. You can almost hear the ghosts of family vacations -- cook-outs, fishing trips, summer romances, and children squealing joyfully as they run through the long summer nights, well past their bedtimes.

In this novel-in-stories, Sa
Bam cooks the books ;-)
Vacationland is a collection of short stories whose uniting factor is the place in which the stories are set: a remote and rustic resort in the far northernmost portion of the state of Minnesota. This first collection contains fifteen stories, all with one word titles: such as Separation, Destination, Hesitation, which tie in well with the subject of each story.

The characters of the stories include the owner of the resort and his granddaughter, the vacationers who come each summer, or perhaps t
Hollye Dexter
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Maybe because of the title, I expected Vacationland to be a light, breezy read. What I didn’t expect was to be engrossed, obsessed, and ultimately knocked off my feet.

The book’s main character Meg was orphaned as a child and raised by her curmudgeonly grandfather Vac at Naledi, a harsh land near the Canadian border, and the Summer resort around which the book’s intricate human stories are interwoven. At Naledi, Meg will observe the many people who come and go, and each will leave an imprint. Me
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading Laurentian Divide through Bookish I fell in love with Hatchet Inlet and the people of Naledi lodge. I learned that the novel is based on Sarah Stonich's set of interconnected short stories Vacationland and found a copy through my local library.

If anything, I would say that Vacationland is even better than Laurentian Divide. And that's saying a lot, folks. I feel like I know so much more about these characters and their experience. Hatchet Inlet becomes more "real" and vivid in these stor
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a marvel! Stonich, as always, hits a home run with this chain of short stories or chaptered novel. With her keen observing eye that spares no one, with her air-tight sentences and her seamless introductions of the past, Stonich creates complex characters that are familiar yet surprise you.

Vacationland is a series of stories/chapters that revolve around a resort in northern Minnesota and its owners, a grandfather/granddaughter duo. Both are "characters" in the small town sense: he is a tigh
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book to enjoy while vacationing very close to the area in Minnesota it is set in. I spent as much time as I could, under the pines, near the lake, immersed in the intertwining short stories that make up Vacationland.

It was fabulous.

I won't go into a summary, you can read that yourself. But, what I will tell you is that this is a book that beckons to you. I love a book like that. One you want to steal moments reading. One that you will let the pot boil over and the laundry mildew f
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are a lot of things I could say about this. Tour-de-force. A book that deserves attention. For anyone who has ever spent even a night at any lake. Evocative. Transportive.
All that sounds a bit too simple.
What Sarah has done here is not easy. She has created an overlapping narrative, which at the center of it has Naledi, a resort on a lake in the northwoods. It's like six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon - everyone has a connection with Naledi. Naledi is at the center, and each person
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I started Sarah Stonich’s Vacationland on a trip to Minnesota’s North Shore, somewhat near where the stories in the book take place. But even had I not started the book in the piney, rocky, lake-filled North, I still would have been just as absorbed and captivated by the stories.

I don’t read fiction often, but the positive reviews upon Vacationland’s publication inspired me to get the book. I was not disappointed. Each interrelated, yet standalone, chapter centered on the Naledi resort in fictio
Sarah Moeding
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having grown up in Minnesota, and especially having grown up spending a couple weeks on the Iron Range near Ely every year at my family's cabin, this book made me weep at least a dozen times. Our cabin was one my great-grandfather built, that my grandfather added on to, and that my father had to give up after his dad's death due to rich folks building their lake homes in the area, driving up the cost of taxes to a level we could no longer keep up with. Nearly an 80 year legacy, now in the hands ...more
Susan Cushman
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Character and place-driven connected stories make up Vacationland, a book for anyone whose childhood love of a place has persisted through adulthood. While set in small summer resort in northern Minnesota, the actual place is not as important as love of a place, so readers anywhere can identify with this book.

Each well-crafted story shares the perspective of a different character, with the main character, a painter named Meg, followed from childhood and featured in several stories. My least favo
Jamie Haddox
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vacationland is the perfect book to bring to the cabin to read by the lake. It isn't a plot-driven page turner that you'll finish in two sittings, it's better than that. Stonich develops characters that saturate your mind. And I don't just mean the people in the book, but the places and times as well. Stonich does a beautiful job weaving together the members of Vacationland into a story. Each character is distinct and you end up feeling like you've known each person for years. She does a wonderf ...more
Becky Loader
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ok, all you Minnesota readers: on your mark, get set, GO to your public library and get Stonich's book!! Now! Before summer is over and you are not going "up north to the lake" anymore.

I would love to be in a book group that discusses this book. The author weaves the characters from chapter to chapter and across different times to paint a story about a time and place. She has lovely characters who have multi-dimensional lives, and she knows how to set a scene.

What a wonderful summer read!

May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Where did my review go? Boohoo hoo I will write yet another review because this book deserves it. By the way, I too had a Czech grandfather, similar to Vac, strong, quiet and loving.
Update: I don’t know where my review went, but I loved this book.
Mary Banken
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Love love loved this book. First--- the style: interwoven short stories-- each with its own meandering, it's own issues, it's own soul and it's own punch. All of them lending a bit more knowledge and understanding of the central character of this work... Naledi Lodge on a lake in northern Minnesota... a.k.a Vacationland. Which is the second thing I love about this book--- the sense of place as a leading role. There is a perfection with which Stonich captures the essence of northern Minnesota-- l ...more
Tess Mertens-Johnson
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I grew up and still live in MN town that was a resort town when I was young. Every summer the cabins would fill with ‘boys from the city” and their parents.
This book brought me back to my youth, and brought back the grief of the resorts that sold out and now large monstrosity homes are fill the lot, leaving only a small patch 0f grass around the fortress.
I feel you don’t need to be from a resort area to find the “family” aspect of this book. The resort brought together people from all walks of l
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Just as I loved "These Granite Islands" and "The Ice Chorus", every page of "Vactionland" was quite simply wonderful. I so appreciated Ms. Stonich's delicious sense of humor (at times laughing out loud!) and her ability to deal with difficult topics with sensitivity and acumen. The character studies were impeccable and I was genuinely sad when the book came to an end. Ms. Stonich is an incredibly gifted writer... I sincerely hope that she will continue to share that gift with her readers in the ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I think this has been my favorite read of 2014! This reminds me of Diane Warren’s “Juliet in August.” While I liked “Juliet” better (Warren has a fewer cast of characters so it’s easier to track) this one remains outstanding. Part of the appeal is that it reminds me of my childhood summers spent at summer resorts with numerous cousins. The other appeal is that the book is well written, with memorable characters, even those Minnesota types we’ve seen in other novels. A 2014 MN Book Award finalist ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reading this book felt like a perfect northern Minnesota vacation - a few adventures, quirky people, stunning beauty and lots of time for thoughtful reflection.

The novel centered on a small resort in northern MN that was long past its peak but still held significance for the people who spent time there. Each chapter read like a short story, but eventually the stories were interwoven, building the history of the resort through its occupants. The sweet, heartbreaking and amusing stories were told
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had a hard time putting it down after purchasing it. The author brought me back to the northern Minnesota that I knew as a child of the 1960's. The 3.2 beer, an ice house going into the lake, everyone knowing everyone's business, and perhaps best of all, the magical blue sky, the changing lake and golden leaves of fall. Well done.

Now I have to buy the rest of Sarah Stonich books and immerse myself in her wonderful characters.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
If I had stopped reading this book at about 85% of the way through I would have rated it 5+ stars. The only weak point was the way Stonich tied everything together in the end. It seemed a little forced or contrived. That said, however, this is definitely worth reading! I laughed, I cried, I was touched and I was given food for thought. A bonus for me was my shared opinion of much of Stonich's view of life in Minnesota. ...more
Pamela Klinger-horn
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories that becomes a novel is a true triumph of the narrative voice. Stonich's characters each take a turn revealing their connection to a resort in the north woods of MN. The stories are by turns harrowing, contemplative, and poignant - yet all are told in the author's signature poetic style. A must for book clubs. VACATIONLAND will provide a wealth of discussion material. A five star read. ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Vacationland was a great book filled with stories within stories. I loved the characters and felt as if I knew just enough about them before Sarah Stonich moved on to another character. Stonich's main character Meg is developed through other peoples' perspectives. Very creative! I am ready to head to Naledi Lodge for a cold beer, lounge in a chair by the water and enjoy a northern Minnesota sunset. ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a secondary pick for my book group (I picked two because the first was a YA quick read). I chose it from the MN Book Award nominations list - short stories and north shore MN... sounds good! I loved this book. Well developed characters with clear voices work well as members of the short stories and even better in the collection that creates the world of Vacationland. Every time I have recommended it since my read, it has been loved. Thoroughly satisfying.
Deb Rankin-Moore
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So far - so good! I love Stonich's writing. Colorful, descriptive, evocative. It reminds me of "Freedom", "The Things They Carried" (one chapter anyway....) and the writings of William Kent Krueger. The author knows Northern Minnesota - a place that I know and love too!

What a great read! The characters are authentic and engaging. Stonich uses marvelous language in describing her scenes and environments. I may well read this one again!!
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
The story (stories) of a resort in the Iron Range of Minnesota. Everything in the book revolves around Vaclav, the now old man who ran the place for a long time, and his granddaughter, Meg. We see both of these characters from several points of view at many different points in time.

I enjoyed the interconnectedness of the sections, but also how much each section stood on its own as a complete story.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I knew it was a series of short stories before I started it so was not unhappy it was not a novel. The author gets the feel of northern MN and an old resort (now very hard to find) just right and peoples her stories with interesting imperfect people. The writing is lovely, the connections and intersections of each story are skillful done, with neat invisible stitches.
John Benson
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book starts out, it seems, as short stories that all have some connection to a northern Minnesota resort named Naledi. As the book progresses, the connections become closer and closer, and by the end of the book, the chapters all tie together as a novel. I really enjoyed all the characters stories who had ties to this resort and how their stories all came together as one in the end.
Connie Hess
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
One reads interconnected vignettes about a summer resort in Northern Minnesota from the eyes of the owners, guests and townsfolk.
Of the 15 woven stories, some deserve a five star rating and others a three star rating. Overall, very well written. Effective and clever use of language without it appearing the author is trying too hard or showing off.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting converging plotlines set at a run-down resort in northern MN. Enjoyable read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
not a novel, not linked stories 1 18 May 11, 2013 07:27PM  
Vacationland: How to post a giveaway? 1 12 Jan 24, 2013 06:36AM  
The Life of a Boo...: How to post a giveaway? 1 16 Jan 23, 2013 09:37AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Wintering (Eide Family, #2)
  • Murder on the Red River
  • Lightning Strike (Cork O’Connor, #0)
  • Swede Hollow
  • Chronicles of a Radical Hag
  • Dead West (Nils Shapiro, #4)
  • Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response
  • Fishing with RayAnne
  • A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota
  • All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler
  • River Runs Deep
  • Safe from the Sea
  • Sugar Birds
  • Manitou Canyon (Cork O'Connor, #15)
  • Someone
  • Truths I Never Told You
  • What's Done in Darkness
  • After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made
See similar books…
See top shelves…
The author of internationally acclaimed and award-winning novels "Laurentian Divide" and "Vacationland", the first two volumes in her Northern trilogy. Her earlier novels, "These Granite Islands" and "The Ice Chorus", left their marks on readers around the world, having been translated into eleven languages - most recently into Czech. Visit her web site for reviews and info. Sarah's memoir, 'Shelt ...more

Other books in the series

Northern Trilogy (2 books)
  • Laurentian Divide

Related Articles

Jodi Picoult never intended to write a book about the pandemic.   Rewind to November 2020, and the prolific writer wasn’t even planning a new...
98 likes · 27 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »