Book Review: Labor Day – Joyce Maynard

Title: Labor Day
Author: Joyce Maynard
ISBN: 9780061843419
Pages: 272
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary:

Henry is thirteen years old and is not looking forward to school starting.  After all, he is one of the “uncool” kids and is usually marginalized by his peers.  When Henry meets a man who asks for his help, he gives it freely.  This encounter will change Henry’s life forever.

Review:

Labor Day brings up interesting questions of ethics and morality, rendered in Joyce Maynard’s lovely prose.  Maynard’s words are spare, echoing the emptiness that Henry feels in his life before Frank, the mystery man, appears and changes everything.  Her descriptions are emotional; Maynard really gets into Henry’s head.  The reader comes to understand his loneliness and his confusion at Frank’s situation.  Henry sees how good Frank makes his life, yet he isn’t sure he wants these changes.

The ethical issues of Labor Day are extremely interesting.  Who defines right and wrong?  If a person commits a crime with their actions, but their intentions are otherwise, are they still culpable?  Maynard also addresses the question of hope – is hope ever useless, or does it always have a purpose?  Even if a person knows they are moving towards a horrible end, is it still possible to hope, and is that worth something?

While the premise of Labor Day was a bit unbelievable, Maynard wrote it well.  Henry’s vacillation was frustrating, but very realistic.  This novel would make an excellent book club pick, as it deals with many relevant issues and will inspire readers to discuss what is within its pages.

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Comments

  1. I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet. I like Maynard’s writing so I know I’ll like this.

    Happy holiday!

  2. I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet. I like Maynard’s writing so I know I’ll like this.

    Happy holiday!

  3. A couple of years ago this book was all the rage…everyone was reading it. It is impressive to hit such heavy topics in under 300 pages too. You have sparked my curiosity on it again.

  4. A couple of years ago this book was all the rage…everyone was reading it. It is impressive to hit such heavy topics in under 300 pages too. You have sparked my curiosity on it again.

  5. I have heard some pretty interesting things about this book, and have wanted to check it out for some time now, but it keeps slipping off my radar. Knowing that you liked it really pleases me, and makes me want to add it to my cart for purchase on my next buying spree. It sounds like there is a lot to think about with this one. Great review. Very concise but meaningful. Thanks!

  6. I have heard some pretty interesting things about this book, and have wanted to check it out for some time now, but it keeps slipping off my radar. Knowing that you liked it really pleases me, and makes me want to add it to my cart for purchase on my next buying spree. It sounds like there is a lot to think about with this one. Great review. Very concise but meaningful. Thanks!

  7. I’ve had this one in my bookcase forever — I bought it during the review craze a few years back! Sounds like I need to grab it soon.

  8. I’ve had this one in my bookcase forever — I bought it during the review craze a few years back! Sounds like I need to grab it soon.

  9. I liked this one more than you did. I was really struck by the fact that Henry felt responsible for his mother’s happiness.

  10. I liked this one more than you did. I was really struck by the fact that Henry felt responsible for his mother’s happiness.

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