Monday, January 13, 2014

Book 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. (Goodreads)

My book clubs were chosen to review this book and also the soon to be released movie. Both my clubs meet later this month but I wanted to post my own review of the book since I just recently finished it.

I really enjoyed it overall. Very easy to read. I have never read Joyce Maynard before and this was smooth writing at its best. At the heart you have a love story; at first between a son and his mother, and then his mother and the stranger and then the son and a girl. It's very honest writing, told in the voice of the son; a son at the age of puberty, ripe with his own thoughts and desires and opinions. You get some back story of his mother and the relationship she had with his father and what brought her to the solitude that she lived in for most of the novel. And the presence of this stranger that they keep in their home is tantalizing, strange, tense and comfortable all at the same time. 

The stranger feels at home right away and the relationship between him and the mother is obvious from the very beginning;love. This book is now a movie with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. I had those actors in mind when I read the book because of the movie-tie-in version that was sent to me. They fit perfectly; mysterious and beautiful. I am very much excited to see the movie and how they bring it to life. So much happens in such a short period of time that the movie will pack a punch, I'm sure.

I spread the copies of the books to both of my book clubs. One meets tomorrow and the other next Monday. I will include in another post their feelings and then eventually our group review of the movie.

I highly recommend this book. It's a fast read, though emotional. The ending is a bit abrupt but I think it had to be for where the story needed to go. 

Overall, a good book club choice.

Author Website:
Joyce Maynard

Movie Website:
Labor Day

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Tales of Whimsy said...

I loved this one. I hope the movie does it justice.

Lindsey said...

The preview for this movie looked quite good. I didn't know it was a book first (looks ashamed). I will have to see if my library has it!

Lisa said...

I really want to try to get to this one before I see the movie. Glad to know you liked it so much.