Sunday, August 22, 2010

Labor Day By Joyce Maynard

Labor Day
By Joyce Maynard

Labor Day is The story takes place in Holton Mills, New Hampshire, in the summer of 1987.   The novel is about 13 year old adolescent boy, named Henry.  He watches TV, reads comic books, and plays with his pet gerbil.   He thinks about girls constantly   He occasionally goes out with his father and their family to Friendly's. Which he fights with himself and forces him self to go. His mother stays to herself. She goes out only about every six weeks for groceries.  Most meals consist of Campbell's soup and TV dinners.

Henry convinces her that he needs new clothes for the start of the school year.  At the PriceMart he is at the magazine rack. A stranger is bleeding and has blood on his jeans. He starts talking to Henry.  For some reason Henry convinces his mother to take, the stranger Frank home.   They find out that he is a escaped convict.  He was in the prison hospital recovering from surgery. He jumps out of a window and here he is.

The man, Frank  is he a friend, a foe, does he keep them as hostage? We find that out later in the book.  We find out the fate of each one's decision. Frank did have another life. Adele, was a dancer and she was very good at it.  Until something in each of their lives changed them and could not turn back the clock.

The main focus is about the little boy and growing up as adolescent. What the effect the man had on his life that labor day weekend.

My Thoughts: At first I did not like the book. But as I the momentum and story kept being layered I started to care about all the characters, and I was hooked.    At first I thought it was ridiculous for Adele to bring home this stranger. What mother would do such a thing. She must be crazy.    I then thought ok there must be two reasons. Either she has such a lonely existance.  Why not? Then the other is she feels so sorry for this man she wants to help someone, I will take a chance.

 In parts of the novel I thought I was reading " A Flash From the Past", a Patty Hearst scenerio. Because if you remember Patty Hearst she originally was taken hostage, or was she? Or she was just swept in? That is what I felt from this book.  There were parts in the novel, I wanted to shake her, and say are you crazy. You have a son to think of..
 She is naive, compulsive, a risk taker without thinking of the consequences of her actions.  She talks to her son inappropriately, she has poor judgement. She is asking her son what he thinks.

  Later on in the novel as we read futher, what happened that Frank's life came to this. Why Adele has a reclusive exixtance.    I don't want to tell you any more spoilers.

 Through out the book, the boy is telling about his  thoughts and feeling of his mother, her relationship of Frank,  and what he feels about his father(divorced, and remarried with children). His growing from adulthood and his sexuality. At times he loves Frank at other times he is jealous of his relationship with his mother.   He feels alot of times he's mother talks to him about very mature subjects  that should not be discussed with him. But because she doesn't have any friends he confides in him. Then the mother and the stranger make a dreadful decision that affects all of them for the rest of their lives that fateful weekend.

The stranger becomes his mentor this labor day weekend.  The story takes place over a labor day weekend.  He teaches him how to play catch, how to make a pie crust, etc.

 I felt that the author did a good job going into a  teenagers head, especially a single child.   I am a single mom and some of the things he said is exactly what my son felt at times. He sometimes felt that he was responsible for my happiness.  I think that is typical for a only child being raised by a single parent.  It was just kind of interesting that see it on paper.  I was like, wow this author must know my son. 

I recieved Labor Day from Book Club Girl for her blog talk radio program. If it was not for that I most likely would not have read it.    I think this book will stay on my book shelf.  This is a keeper and I will remember this one for a while.  I can't rave enough about this short, lovely book.  You must read it.   I had read a novel, called Golden Grove about adolescent. That one I did not enjoy as much.   I would recommend this novel to all my friends and book club members. 
Here is a review by The Washington post.
 I would like to ask Joyce why she called the novel Labor Day? Is there some kind of significance?

On another note, I happy to report, I  read on Joyce's website that Labor Day is going into production for a movie. The entire time I was reading it, I was watching it as a movie. Isn't that interesting.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Oooh--a Labor Day movie. Sounds good! Joyce Maynard is one of my favorite contemporary authors.

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