Title: Labor Day
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.
Henry, the narrator of the story, has taken on the role of being responsible while his mother; Adele, is depressed and taken aback by the reeling of her divorce and the breakdown of the family dynamic. But soon enough, the dynamic changes all together. When Adele and Henry both leave the house together, which is a rare occasion, they meet a man who changes things all together. He is hurt, and so they take him back to the house where they progress to find out his secret. He’s not the disguise he wears as his uniform. He is actually an escaped prisoner and hurt himself escaping through a window; Frank. The man who would change their lives forever.
Although I am a Young Adult reader 90% of the time, this felt similar because of the younger narrator, though the issues and subjects were more adult-like. Labor Day was a perfect afternoon read that started off as a few pages, into reading the book in a day. Still, after the pages were closed, the thoughts of the books remained in my mind. And *that* is rare, something you don’t find in every book out there.
Labor Day was powerful, blissful and quirky. Overall, an undeniably amazing read that I would recommend so highly. Definitely a favourite Adult read of the year.