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Labor Day

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Labor Day

ratings:
3.5/5 (275 ratings)
Length:
274 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 28, 2009
ISBN:
9780061957659
Format:
Book

Description

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.

In a manner evoking Ian McEwan's Atonement and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy—and the man he later becomes—looking back at an unexpected encounter that begins one single long, hot, life-altering weekend.

Publisher:
Released:
Jul 28, 2009
ISBN:
9780061957659
Format:
Book

About the author

Joyce Maynard is the author of twelve books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoir At Home in the World, translated into seventeen languages, and the New York Times–bestselling novel Labor Day. Maynard’s most recent novel, After Her, also tells a story of sex and murder.    A former reporter with the New York Times and longtime performer with the Moth, Maynard teaches writing at Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, and makes her home in Northern California. 

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Reviews

What people think about Labor Day

3.3
275 ratings / 82 Reviews
What did you think?
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    This was a gentle love story narrated by Adele's thirteen-year-old son who observes the budding romance between his fragile mother and an escaped convict over a Labor Day weekend. The thing I found most frustrating was the lack of quotation marks which made the book hard to follow at times, but I did like Henry's voice.
  • (3/5)
    This story is told through the eyes of 13-year-old Henry about his hermit mom Adele and escaped convict Frank. This is a sad story and also a love story. Frank spends 6 days with Henry and Adele and changes their lives forever. This was a quick read, barely over 200 pages. I liked Frank and Adele together yet she and Henry were making me mad that they didn't turn Frank in. This book has a sweet ending and I did enjoy learning about the different characters.
  • (4/5)
    As an adult, Henry tells his story beginning at the age of 13. Henry lives with his divorced mom and barely tolerates his visits with his father and his new family. Trying to figure life out as he's muddling through adolescence, he meets a man in need of help during a trip to the grocery store with his mom. His mother decides to help the man out and life then becomes even more difficult for Henry to figure out.This book carried an off kilter vibe for me, but I think that was part of the charm. Explaining details about it to someone else makes it sound a little preposterous, but I was too drawn into the characters to even care. What made the book for me was hearing it from Henry's perspective. I thought that was done very well and totally believable.This was my first encounter with Joyce Maynard, and I have already acquired another one (Where Love Goes) since reading this book. I'm looking forward to reading her work again. I like her style.Originally posted on: Thoughts of Joy
  • (2/5)
    Mystery re: escaped convict and the days around Labor Day weekend. Interesting characters - told from viewpoint of 13-yr old boy
  • (3/5)
    This is my first Joyce Maynard book. The synopsis sounded intriguing. The story of Adele is a sad one, indeed. But Frank's presence seems to bring some life back to her. She needed love and affection. She needed positive attention. Thirteen-year-old Henry has been the "man" of the house for so long, yet he can't make his mother happy. Not in the way that Frank can.

    Frank isn't really as awful as the media portrays him to be. He's a human being with flaws and still possesses some good qualities.

    The story is sad while still clinging to hope and love. It is generously insightful, sharing the why's of Adele's unhappiness and depression. While Joyce is a fair storyteller, this book is not one that I would re-read.
  • (3/5)
    Despite the improbable start to the story, the personalities soon take over and make it a straight through reading.It would have been near-perfect, except for all the repetitions about Adele's behavior, if the author had resolvedFrank's capture some other way than Henry setting up a predictable betrayal. Even Barry would have worked better.The postcard ending doesn't make up for the stupidity.
  • (4/5)
    Captivating and demanding on your time. I really love these types of novels which manage to grab you and pull you straight in between the covers and become almost your reality. Definitely well worth a read.
  • (5/5)
    A beautiful story, wonderfully written, that tugs at all the right heartstrings.Adele is a single mother--a woman who has lost love and lost hope. She exists only in the world inside her house with her 13-year old son, Henry.As Henry deals with navigating his way through adolescence, his solitude, and determining if there's a place for him with his father's new family, his mother wills herself through each day.Their entire existence changes when they meet Frank, an escaped prisoner who seeks and finds refuge with them in their home.This story flows seamlessly from the first page to the last, and it's one of the best books I've read this year.Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Henry is a very sweet boy. He loves his divorced, fragile mother and is figuring out how to get along with his father's new family (handling it pretty well, all things considered). This book is a coming-of-age story condensed into one long weekend. But that coming-of-age story is attached to a kind of noir crime plot. And therein lies the problem. I believe everything Maynard wrote -- I read along willingly and uncritically. But when I step back and think intellectually about what's happening to Henry and his mother over this weekend, I realize that there should have been more menace in the situation. Instead, it's kind of a weird pseudo-love story. I had to bring the creepiness and menace myself.
  • (5/5)
    I just finished this book in a marathon of reading. Could not put it down, the characters (and their flaws) are compelling. Telling the story through the eyes of a pre-teen boy lent the narrative a sense of innocence that was disarming. I think Ms. Maynard has a real talent for searing right to the souls of her characters. Very enjoyable read.
  • (5/5)
    In the beginning I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one or not, but after only a couple chapters in, I was hooked. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard is a book that I couldn't wait to pick up before I went to bed to see what was happening next. It was not only a poignant coming-of-age story of a young boy, it also portrayed his mother who was struggling with her own demons as well. I found myself wanting to hug this boy and it really made me think about how sometimes the things we think we know about a person can be totally off. It is a story about love and the strange ways it can be found.
    I love the way the book ended as well. Instead of being tragic like I actually expected, it instead made me feel good and showed that sometimes good things come out of bad situations. It shows the power of love as well as the power of forgiveness. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book that makes you smile as you close the back cover.
  • (5/5)
    This was a great read. An escaped convict (Frank) convinces a young boy (Henry) and his mother (Adele) to shelter him over the Labour Day weekend. Frank and Adele fall in love while the search for Frank is ongoing. Henry is torn between his liking of Frank and his fear that he will be displaced by him. In tone and atmosphere, this book reminded me of The Bridges of Madison County. This book is well written, great characters....I'll be looking for more by this author.
  • (5/5)
    At age 13, Henry had become his agoraphobic mother's only companion. His father had left them years ago and started another family. As the man of the house, Henry seemed incapable of really giving his mother, Adele, what she needed. One day, when there was no avoiding their need to go to the store for new school pants, Henry is approached by Frank, a prisoner who had recently escaped and was on the loose. Frank is able to convince Henry and Adele to take him back to their home and they agree to help him. Over the course of a very hot Labor Day weekend, Adele and Henry begin to accept Frank as a member of their family, and he soon fills a hole in their lives they hadn't known had been so empty before he came. This was really an amazing book. I loved how Frank's role transforms over the course of the story until the reader becomes entirely sympathetic to his plight. I really enjoyed watching how he taught Henry important life lessons in such a short period of time. The pace of the novel was soothing and lovely. I was disappointed with the changes they made in the movie version, which painted Frank as a rougher, less empathic person. Although the simplification of his crime made the story more cohesive, the movie version was less soothing, less patient, and overall, less enjoyable than the novel.
  • (5/5)
    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. As 13-year-old Henry lived through six days that changed how he saw his family and himself, I became drawn into the characters, even the ones I didn't want to like. The author was adept at creating a sense of building tension; I think the structure of narrating day by day through the extended Labor Day weekend added to this: when would it end? I'm not sure I want to see the movie, even though I read it because I saw the movie advertised. I think it's a lovely story as it is.
  • (4/5)
    I picked this up in anticipation of seeing the movie but after the bomb reviews that got I am probably going to pass. In the story a young boy picks up a bleeding convicted killer on a rare outing to the market with his agoraphobic mother. Inexplicably they take him home for a long labor day weekend where much wisdom transpires over making pies and playing baseball. It was really hard to get over the premise that a mother with a young child is going to just pick up a bleeding male stranger and take him home. My cynical nature could not grasp this and it almost sunk the book for me but for some reason I could not put it down. I always wanted to know what happened next and I liked the characters, I wanted it to work out for them. The more I read the more sense the characters actions made and I could (almost) overlook the circumstances that brought them together. In the end the story won me over.
  • (4/5)
    I'd had this book on my wishlist since shortly after it was published. I suspect more than anything, the cover art drew me in at that point, but it wasn't until I (& my book club) discovered it was being made into a movie that it moved up to the top of the reading pile. The basic story centers around a 13-year-old boy (Henry) & the events of one long Labor Day weekend, where an escaped convict works his way into Henry's home. From that description, it sounds like the story will be a thriller, but it's not. Far from it, in fact. The convict turns out to be not such a bad guy, and he and Henry's mother fall in love. From there, things get complicated, as you might imagine.It wasn't until about halfway through that I really got interested in this story. I at first found the writing a little simplistic, but then I had to remind myself that it was written from the point of view of a young teen. Overall, the writing is more or less simple, but it tackles some complicated emotional stuff, and the reader sees how Henry does a lot of growing up in a relatively short amount of time. It's a story that will pull at the heartstrings and should adapt well to a movie, which I plan on viewing this weekend.
  • (4/5)
    I soo longed for this to be a romance. After I saw this book featured on Buzzfeed's list of books getting turned into movies and saw the movie trailer, I knew I had to read it. The trailer with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin looked beautiful and haunting and romantic. Which is what the book is, only... less on the romance.The story is told through the eyes of thirteen year old Henry Wheeler, and explores one life changing labor day weekend that he spent with his mother and an escaped convict. He comes into their life by accident, but it appears that the escaped convict, Frank, is anything but what the newspapers make him out to be. He is thoughtful, handy, and considerate, and quickly steals Henry's fragile mother's heart.This is more of a coming of age story then a romance, and it won't end the way you expect it to. But that's no reason for you not to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I can't wait to see the movie!
  • (3/5)
    Read from February 05 to 06, 2014I read this because of the movie trailer. I had little interest before the trailer came out, but they made it look riveting. Because of the trailer I expected a love story...you know, these two people coming together against all odds. There is some of that here, but more than anything this is a coming-of-story.The story of the fated Labor Day weekend is told to us as many coming-of-age stories are -- Henry, Adele's son, is older and wiser and he is recounting to us this life-changing weekend when he was 13. Henry and Adele have a close relationship, she's divorced from his father and Henry doesn't have many friends. Adele doesn't leave the house often. Then one day they go to the store and end up bringing an escaped convict home with them. Frank is a nice fellow and needs a place to lay low while they're looking for him. Adele is a woman that follows her gut more than her head so she agrees. So while there is a love story, we only get the part seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy. It isn't at all the same as a LOVE story, but I didn't hate it. Once I got over the initial surprise, I liked the story (I do love a good coming-of-age tale). The ebook formatting was annoying though -- if a paragraph is starting, it should be MORE indented than it was here. Plus there were no quotation marks which I find incredibly annoying...what is it with that choice? I guess it's supposed to say something to me about memory and style, but it's incredibly annoying.
  • (3/5)
    I probably would have liked this if I was a mother, or if I wasn't such a cynic when it comes to love. I decided to read this book when I saw a trailer for the movie version of it. While it was a relatively short book I found it to be dull at times and filled with characters that I didn't like. I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading this though, people will love this book.This is basically of coming of age story about Henry who experiences some life-changing events during Labor day weekend when he is 13. This is told from Henry's point-of-view and I didn't really understand why it was told in first person point-of-view until the end. Henry lives with his mother Adele who rarely wants to leave the house. Towards the end when it is revealed why she is the way she is I did feel a bit sorry for her. I just couldn't believe that she would let this escaped convict into her house. It just seemed like she wasn't doing what was best for her child.Labor Day was well written but it just didn't provide me with a story that I felt was compelling or captivating. I could never connect with or like the characters. There will be people out there who love this book but it just wasn't the book for me.
  • (3/5)
    The events of Labor Day weekend change the course of the lives of a 13 yr old boy and his single mother when they decide to help a man with a tragic past.
  • (4/5)
    Stayed up late on Labor Day to finish Labor Day!

    Surprisingly, the movie was fairly close to the book; I kept hoping the book ended differently than the movie did. I want to know more about Adele & Frank, wish there was a follow-up novel.
  • (4/5)
    Labor Day by Joyce MaynardWilliam Morrow, 2009Fiction; 244 pgsYears ago, I read The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard, which dealt with the 9/11 terror attack. It was a story about grief and learning to move on, and it was one that touched my heart. Joyce Maynard is one of those authors I always meant to return to, but never managed to. Until now. In part, that is due to the recent release of the movie. I wanted to see the movie, but, like so many others, had this burning desire to read the book first.Labor Day takes place in Holton Hills, New Hampshire. For the young narrator and his mother, life is mostly about getting through each day. Henry is thirteen years old, and in many ways typical. He has wet dreams and is fascinated by the opposite sex, but is also confused by his feelings and thoughts. He loves his mother fiercely, however, has spent most of his life trying to make her happy. She's always so sad and doesn't have much interest in life outside her own house. She rarely goes out, and does what she can to avoid it as often as possible. His mother, Adele, hadn't always been depressed. She once had been a dancer, full of dreams and of life. He loved listening to his mother's stories about her younger days. Henry has no friends and escapes often in books and television. His mother and father divorced years before, his father remarrying and starting a new family. The weekend before school is to start, Labor Day weekend, on a rare excursion to the store, Henry and his mother are approached by a man looking for a ride, preferably to their house where he can tend to his wounds and clean himself up. Instinctively trusting the man, they allow him to come home with them. Frank is a convicted murderer who has just escaped from custody. He is upfront about who he is and his intentions, promising he means Adele and Henry no harm.The novel takes place over the course of a week, the week in which Frank is with the family. Frank reawakens something long lost in both Henry and Adele, and none of their lives will be the same after.There is nothing rushed about this novel. At least in terms of the writing or story. There is great sadness in the novel, and my heart ached for Henry and his mother, Adele. Perhaps because of what I do for a living, I was less inclined to buy Frank's story at face value. I wanted to trust him and like him just as Adele and Henry did, but I was always wary of him. It is clear that Adele is deeply troubled. What kind of mother brings a convicted murderer into her home willingly? The way Maynard built her characters and her story, I almost believed it could happen. But only just almost.I loved Maynard's writing in The Usual Rules and I love it in Labor Day. I also liked the care she took in crafting her characters, how real they became as I read the novel, and how much reflection went into their thoughts and actions. Henry, as the narrator, of course, is at the heart of the novel and he definitely stole mine. I could feel is uncertainty and frustration throughout the novel, and also his joy at having someone take such an interest in him--and not having to care for his mother for a short while. What a relief that must have been.After reading the book, I was excited about seeing the movie. Kate Winslet was a wonderful choice to play Adele. She was very believable as a woman suffering from Depression and social anxiety. I enjoyed the movie for the most part. The pacing seemed in line with the book. It isn't a fast paced story, even given the subject matter. It's less a suspense novel/movie as it is a more character driven one. That isn't to say there is no suspense, however. There's always that concern that Frank's hiding place will be discovered.I liked that the movie built in more a sense of menace at the beginning of the film, making it more believable that Adele and Henry would take someone like Frank home. There's an implied threat that I did not get from Frank's character in the book. What I did not like about the movie, however, were the flashback scenes. Frank's story is mostly told in flashbacks, and for some reason, the movie makers decided to break those flashbacks into fragments, not necessarily revealing those fragments in order. It made it confusing, even to someone who had read the book before hand. I also felt not enough emphasis was given to Adele's past, the reason she was the way she was. It's mentioned in the movie, but it seemed more like an after thought.I am still glad I went to see the film, and even more so that I read the book.
  • (4/5)
    Curled up in front of my woodstove, dreary mid-winter gray skies outside my windows, this steamy Labor Day weekend book was just what the doctor ordered. Nothing more than a quick weekend read - a book fling, if you will - but there was just something about it: perhaps the adolescent boy narrative, perhaps the romantic notion of love for the sake of love, or perhaps the improbability of it all - but whatever it was rendered Maynard's writings into a salve for this sun-starved girl from the North Country.

  • (4/5)
    When a man shows up that makes your sad mother smile, who treats you with affection and respect, and who can cook, it's hard to care that he's an escapee convicted of murder. Isn't it? Told from the viewpoint of thirteen-year-old Henry, the story explores the answering of loneliness, the fear of change, and regret. Enjoyed very much.
  • (3/5)
    3.5 out of 5. Considering the sheer pleasure I got while reading this book - not pleasure in a HAPPY! way but pleasure in a "this read well and quickly and ticked the boxes it was meant to tick" way - I could've nudged this up to a 4. But let's be honest: I will, more likely than not, forget most of this within a few weeks (possibly longer, as movie-going is in my future), hopefully excepting the pie tips. This is housewife-book-club material and a damn fine example of it. Maynard's writing flows like a kitchen faucet, smooth and clear and sometimes oddly beautiful - all the while evoking those simpler summer days of childhood while attempting to capture the awkwardness we'd rather forget. You know, based on one look at the synopsis, whether or not you'll like this book. If you're the kind of person who will, then by all means enjoy - you could do a lot worse.
  • (3/5)
    I found this book to be slow at times and at other times compelling. It was a coming of age story as seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old boy.
  • (4/5)
    Labor Day by Joyce Maynard; (4*)I found Labor Day to be a very well written book. It illustrated the danger of writing people off because of past mistakes or because they have been put into a particular box. I thought the author did a great job of presenting this complex situation to us through the eyes of a youthful boy named Henry. Henry has both misgivings and love for his mother which color his response to this unknown man's entrance into their lives. It is a heart rendering story about family dynamics. A boy's coming of age, a mother's depression, a stepfamily and a convict. They are all thrown together, making for a touching read. I was captivated from the start.
  • (4/5)
    Labor Day was a great book told from the perspective of a adolescent boy, coming to terms with becoming a teenager and dealing with this epic five day weekend.Henry who lives with his divorced mother leads a small but content life. His mother talks to him about adult subjects and always treats him fairly, as if he were just another adult. His mom, Adele, has not been able to get past her divorce from Henry's father, who is now remarried with a stepson and a new baby daughter. But one day, everything changes. Henry and his mother go to the store and through a series of events meet a very nice, calm, cool and collected convicted murderer. Who sort of kidnaps them and takes them back to there house and spends the long weekend with them. To say anymore would ruin the book, but know that it is not about fear, it is about love and how it conquers everything.
  • (4/5)
    An ordinary day before the Labor Day long weekend becomes something extraordinary as Henry and his mother end up meeting an injured stranger at the store. The events that unfold over the short couple of days will forever change both of their lives. A story about love, being in love, and being in love with love is all part of Maynard's novel. A story about a young boy coming to understand how love can destroy, but also how love can heal. There was definitely a point in the book where I was wondering where the book was going and was worried that it was becoming stagnant, but the ending was enough to leave me with a smile on my face. An enjoyable story with a resolution that provides both comfort and closure.
  • (4/5)
    This one was on my books to read before movie comes out list.

    "But there was something about the way Frank fed my mother that made the whole thing almost beautiful, like he was a jeweler or a scientist, or one of those old Japanese men who work all day on a single bonsai." What a great image! The story takes place over 6 days then jumps ahead in the last few pages 18 years later.

    Hope the movie does not ruin what the author has created. I will say from the previews I like the casting with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin (sp)