Vacationland - Sarah Stonich 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, Sarah Stonich takes us to just such a derelict resort, where the ghosts of the past mingle with the locals who are still very much alive. Naledi Lodge sits in Northern Minnesota, so close to Ontario that there's a point where you can throw a rock into Canadian waters. Tourists and entrepreneurs may come and go, but the year-round residents of nearby Hatchet Inlet remain solid and taciturn, rolling with the changes while clinging to traditions.The stories are presented in non-linear time. At the start it seems confusing, but eventually you begin to recognize the characters and connections in their various incarnations, back and forth through the years.Meg Machutova and her Czech grandfather Vac are the central characters tying the stories together. Vac was the owner of Naledi Lodge in its prime years of operation. Meg is left with its crumbling remains, unable to let go of the only place that signifies "home" for her. The most poignant aspect of the novel is Meg's journey through life as an orphan, eventually tracing her roots further back than she ever expected to go. I did enjoy these stories so much, for all the reasons I loved Sarah Stonich's other two novels. She writes with an artist's eye for beauty, and she diligently works to forge a connection with her characters in the heart of every reader. She's a native of Minnesota, and brings local flair to her stories, incorporating that unique blend of Finnish, Swedish, and Native American heritage.What surprised and delighted me in these stories was the humor, especially in the first few pieces. I don't recall finding that playful naughtiness in her other works. I lost track of how many times I had to put the book down and cackle. If you balk at the mention of short stories, I highly recommend starting with Stonich's other two novels, [b:These Granite Islands|419456|These Granite Islands|Sarah Stonich||408599] and [b:The Ice Chorus|961497|The Ice Chorus|Sarah Stonich||946398]. After you fall in love with her writing, you may decide to stick your toes in the water at Hatchet Inlet.