Mar 11, 2014

Review: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry—lonely, friendless, not too good at sports—spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele—a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.

But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others—especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

When this book first came out in 2009, there was so much talk about it and it seemed the blogosphere was saturated with it, so I purposely held off reading it. Then I forgot about it. This past winter with the release of the film version looming, my interest was sparked again. I'm a huge Josh Brolin fan and I wanted to read the book before I watched the movie. 

When I first started reading, I was unsure if I was going to like it. Adele, the mother, seemed a bit off to me and I had trouble relating to her and the way she lived her life. Thankfully, as the story went on I began learning more about her background and I understood her a little better, though I still thought she was a bit odd.  Additionally, in the beginning, the story just didn't sound all that realistic to me.  That said, Frank did come across as a likable guy once you knew the real story of how he ended up in prison and I did like how he related to Henry and taught him things.  But the fact that this man had so much power over them was just strange to me.  I still have trouble accepting it as realistic sometimes when I think back on it. 

For me, this is one of those books that slowly got better and by the end, I was glad that I'd decided to finally read it. I did really like the ending, though it was a sad and strange story. I am looking forward to seeing the movie to see how they interpret it for the big screen. Maybe it will come across a bit more realistic to me. Plus, there's the Josh Brolin thing....

Though I did end up enjoying the book, I can't say it's one of my favorites or one that I would recommend highly. If I'm completely honest, I just don't relate to all the hype this book garnered when it was first released.  For me, it was okay but I didn't love it. 

LABOR DAY (Kindle Edition)
Author: Joyce Maynard
Publisher: William Morrow
Published:  July 2009
Length:  256 pp


  1. I loved this book! I know the plot was far fetched but, somehow, I bought it. I thought the movie was less realistic than the book.

  2. It was a little creepy to me, that she would have, ahem, relations with the guy and her kid was just in the next room listening to it all, but somehow, in Maynard's hands it all worked for me.

    Haven't seen the movie but Maynard thought they did a great job with it.

  3. Yeah I liked the narration of this one a bit. I could picture the isolation & awkwardness in which they lived. Here's some of my other thoughts on it at

  4. I've had t his on my shelves for a few years but haven't mustered up much energy to read it. My guess is that I'll see the movie first. I like Brolin too.


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