Vacationland is set in a fictional North Shore, MN town, the kind of town where people have lived forever and know each other and each other's history quite intimately. The reader gets to know some of these people as well, as Vacationland is a novel in stories, centered around the town of Hatchet Inlet and the long-time cabin resort called Naledi Lodge, nicknamed Vacationland. Naledi is owned by a crusty Czech immigrant named Vac, who is also raising his granddaughter, Meg, who was orphaned when quite young. The book spans many years in Meg's life, as she grows up and becomes an artist of some acclaim, yet returns to the decrepit old resort.
Novels made of interconnected stories are dicey propositions. The best ones I can think of are Olive Kitteridge (for me, the gold standard), The Tsar of Love and Techno, and A Visit from the Goon Squad. Each of these has just enough characters to bring in variation, while not so many that you have trouble keeping track of people. Olive Kitteredge worked particularly well for me in that the title character is very unlikable, yet when you see her life through her eyes as well as the eyes of those around her, you learn so much that you develop empathy for her, even while wincing at her behavior.
In Vacationland, the central character of Meg is not nearly as mysterious as Olive, and ultimately not as interesting. There are also tons of side characters who get to speak, and some of them begin to sound alike. I would have preferred Meg to have more to her, and fewer characters to keep track of. The settings are great--Stonich clearly knows northern Minnesota and describes it beautifully, and I did get a chuckle out of seeing the name of my high school town show up (All hail Blackduck, MN), but in the end, some of the stories worked for me while others were predictable and tended toward sentimental.
Still, I'll read what Stonich writes next, because there was enough that I liked to carry me over.