Labor Day by Joyce Maynard


As Labor Day approaches in Holton Mills, New Hampshire, 13-year-old Henry and his mother Adele head into town to pick up some groceries and supplies for their home.  This is a rare trip to town as single emotionally damaged mom Adele does not like being around people and mainly sticks to home where she lives her quiet small life.  Henry, a product of his environment is much a loner himself with no real close friends and no one he really hangs out with except his dads new wife’s kids.  Henry spends much of his time playing with his hamster, trying to make his mom feel better, and thinking of girls.

At the grocery store a limping man, named Frank, approaches Henry asking for help.  Henry sees that Frank is bleeding and takes him to his mother who in turn takes Frank home with her and Henry.  This is when Frank shares his story that he has escaped and is a wanted man (not in a sexy way…. but in a “my face is going to be on tv” way). 

Over the next five days surrounding the Labor Day Holiday Henry will learn a lot about his mom, he will learn to bake with Frank’s expertise, and how to correctly throw a ball.  And Henry will come out of the weekend a changed boy – with more knowledge about love, betrayal, and letting go… even when it is the last thing we want to do.




I am having a hard time spilling out my feelings regarding Labor Day.  On one hand, I want to say that Adele’s inability to use her backbone brings the”strong female characters preferred” gene in me screaming through the book like fingernails on a chalk board.

But that is harsh.

And probably not fair.

Isn’t it funny how my own preferences of how women need to be strong and able to take care of themselves  rears up out of nowhere? 

I have a hard time wrapping my head around a single woman with a young son to look after, taking home a strange man that she knows nothing about and then under the strangest conditions keeping him there. 

On the other hand, I do not know the depths of Adele’s depression, or the amount of frailness she withholds from past hurts.  It is not fair of me to judge what I do not understand.

Labor Day is told from Henry’s point of view so we (I) must be reminded that what is happening is how he see’s things with his 13-year-old mind.  (Although… I can not see how else he could have seen it) Doh!  I did it again.

I think I am in the minority as I glanced at overall reviews of this book on Amazon they rate fairly high.  I struggled personally with the probability of such a thing happening – but… we do live in a strange world. 

Here are some different thoughts on this book from Bloggers I trust:

Bermuda Onion

Alison’s Book Marks

Red Headed Book Child

I clearly did not love the book, but I did not hate it either.  It is a book that still has me thinking about it.  The fact that it creates such strong emotion in me must say something 🙂

My book club received copies of this book to read as a group in anticipation of the movie.  Tonight we are going to the movie as a group and I am hopeful that my opinion of the storyline will change after the movie.  No matter what, I still get to hang out with a great group of girls 😀

Hello New Hampshire!




20 thoughts on “Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

  1. Well, as you know I loved the book. Adele didn’t have much of a backbone but she was so damaged and Henry was so protective. By the way, a friend of mine told us at book club that she brought someone home from the grocery store and he spent the weekend with them.

    Thanks for the link love!

  2. Perhaps my take on Adele has a lot to do with my many years of working with damaged people, discovering how they got that way, and helping them to grow stronger. I loved the book, of course. But we all bring our own experiences to books we read, and how we see the characters stems from those experiences. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I bet it does Laurel – I wanted to relate to her, but could not imagine being so broken that I would not put my son first. I liked her better in the movie, she was stronger and while still dealing with past hurts, I seemed to understand her better.

  3. I share some of your feelings about this book, mainly because I found the story so ridiculous. I liked Adele, but damaged or not, who brings a bleeding escaped murderer to her house with her kid? And Frank’s character was completely one-dimensional — the story of how he ended up in prison not believable at all. Hope you enjoy the movie!

  4. I haven’t read the book, but I want to see the movie. Mainly for one reason….Josh Brolin..LOL If the stranger looked like him..I might take him home without thinking!! 🙂 All that aside it is sort of unbelievable that a woman would take a stranger home with her when she has a child.

  5. I have to admit I wasn’t rushing out to read this book, but I saw a preview for the movie that interested me… If I decide to see the movie I will probably read the book beforehand. 🙂

  6. O see I loved this book. I went through infertility for many years so I could relate to her struggles. Her feelings of worthlessness. (I could say more but don’t want to put any spoilers in the comments) I loved her character. She was flawed and cautionary and raw. She made me cry.

  7. I just reread my review, I didn’t like this one either. I actually wrote:

    If the description for this novel mentioned a weak mother who let a convict (on the run) stay with her and her son… I probably wouldn’t have signed up for this book giveaway, I think this an important fact to share – it’s not the type of book I would purchase on my own (it creeped me out a bit). The reviews are very good on BN.COM (4.5 of 5 stars) so I wouldn’t shy away from it but I will tell you that I wasn’t able to connect with the characters solely on the ‘creep out’ factor.

  8. I loved the book. I stumbled a bit over the plausibility of it all but at the same time, it felt real to me. I chalk that up to Maynard’s talent as an author. I’ve heard some horrible reviews for the movie though. I am saddened by this because while reading the book, I could SEE it at a movie. I hardly ever see movies while they are in the theater but I hope to see this one soon.

Hmmmm... what do you think?

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