A family embarks on a cruise together—but will the weight of their secrets sink the whole ship?
Elise Feldman Connelly knows she has a problem. She can’t stop shopping even though she’s blown through her family’s savings and obliterated her son’s college fund. She just has to keep her addiction a secret from her husband, Mitch, until she can figure out a solution. But when Elise’s mother, Annette, insists the entire family go on a cruise together for her 70th birthday, it becomes clear that Elise isn’t the only one with a secret. Elise’s father is hiding an illness, Mitch is contemplating a career change, and both of Elise’s children have their own complicated lives. Perhaps the biggest secret is being kept by Elise’s brother, Freddy, whom everyone assumes is nothing more than an aging stoner. He’s actually the head of a hugely successful marijuana company, a fact he hasn’t shared with the uptight Feldmans. While Annette just wanted her whole family together under one roof, keeping everyone happy on a cruise ship plagued with crowds, bad food, and forced fun proves to be almost impossible. As family resentment simmers and eventually blows up, the Feldmans learn that maybe they all have more in common than they thought. Friedland (The Intermission, 2018, etc.) creates vivid characters with distinct voices, from the outwardly critical matriarch to the insecure teenager. The story is at its best when the whole family is together, allowing their individual personalities to bounce off one another. There's also some sharp commentary about the pitfalls of cruises, and even readers who've never been on one will feel positively claustrophobic as they read about the cramped cabins the Feldmans stay in.
A fun look at family drama on the open seas.