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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Event Can Change You Forever
Over the space of a Labor Day weekend in 1987, thirteen year old Henry's life is forever changed when he and his mother meet fugitive Frank Chambers. In an odd encounter, Frank approaches Henry and judging him trustworthy, asks Henry and his mother Adele to take him home with them, and for reasons known only to them, they do. During the next few days, Frank ingratiates...
Published on August 16, 2009 by Tamela Mccann

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been slightly more powerful
I had mixed feelings about this book. In one way, it's a gentle story about love and a teenaged boy who has had to be the adult for way too long. On the other hand, it feels a little contrived. A woman and her son bring into their home a strange man without even a flicker of worry or doubt or suspicion? Even before they find out he's an escaped convict, you'd expect...
Published on January 21, 2011 by J. Shetrone


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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Event Can Change You Forever, August 16, 2009
This review is from: Labor Day: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Over the space of a Labor Day weekend in 1987, thirteen year old Henry's life is forever changed when he and his mother meet fugitive Frank Chambers. In an odd encounter, Frank approaches Henry and judging him trustworthy, asks Henry and his mother Adele to take him home with them, and for reasons known only to them, they do. During the next few days, Frank ingratiates himself into their lives, teaching Henry to play baseball and bake a pie, and falling in love with the quirky, depressive Adele. The three live within the cocoon of the world they create as the rest of the community searches for Frank, an escaped murderer. As the days pass, Frank's bitter story emerges; wrongly accused of murdering his wife and child, he took the first chance he got to escape, and with his gentle ways and care, he slowly brings Adele back to life and helps Henry confront his confusion over a mostly uninvolved father and a helpless mother.

Written in Maynard's trademark spare style, this odd set-up somehow works its magic and pulls you in. Told from Henry's point of view, we experience all the longings of a young teen with too much responsibility. Henry is somewhat of a social outcast; his mother has burdened him with her inability to function outside her home so that he is her only lifeline to the world. Frank, a Viet Nam vet, somehow makes the three into a family in a short period of time, knowing it won't last but grasping at whatever freedom he can achieve, both from his past and his present. Henry makes both good and bad choices here; both typical and atypical, Henry's a main character filled with confusion, at the mercy of parents too concerned with themselves to worry much about him.

I at first let the premise of allowing an escaped felon into your home willingly get in the way of my enjoyment of this novel, but once I set aside my own worries over the probability of this happening, I found that I was immersed in this story of old beyond his years Henry and his nervous, needy mother. Maynard's characters are real and poignant, and Henry tells the story honestly. Moving and desperate, this coming of age tale will pull you into its depths and leave you thinking about it long after you close the last page.
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58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Moving Read, July 22, 2009
This review is from: Labor Day: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I read "The Usual Rules" by Joyce Maynard years ago and just loved it. I thought then what a gift this author had for teen-age voices. Now in, "Labor Day" her prowess shines brightly and poignantly.

Henry, our 13 year old narrator, shares a most remarkable story of a Labor Day weekend. His fragile, sensitive, and deeply troubled mother, Adele and he accept an escaped convict into their minute, reclusive lives. Harboring, Frank, deepens Henry's insight into the world that exists outside four walls. Improbability may conjure, but irony plays their lives like a fine violin. Adele, Frank and Henry are all imprisoned by grief, loss, tragedy and heartbreak, but within each other find elusive freedom to hope. To try again. To explore possibilities. I will not share more as you need to read this book to interpret your own understanding of human nature and all it's idiosyncrasies.

Beautifully written descriptions, profound understanding of the human condition, irony, and a flowing story makes this a book I must recommend. I know long after this book resides on my shelves, I will remember Henry and all a thirteen year old had to teach this aging skeptic.

Lovely job, Ms. Maynard.

Gayla Collins
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has "stayed with me"...wonderful and unpredictable!, November 18, 2009
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This review is from: Labor Day: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I read this book 2 months ago and have taken some time to write this review... I wanted to let it settle, linger in my mind a bit. The author captures the point of view / narrative of a 13-year old perfectly. The story, bittersweet and sad, is very readable and definitely a page turner. Along with "The Help", this is one of the books that I've thought about quite a bit since I put it down, and plan to re-read it.

The story is engrossing; and better yet - completely unpredictable. I don't want to write too much and spoil it, but suffice it to say that the activities of one Labor Day weekend affected both young Henry and his mother for the rest of their lives. This is one of the best books I've read this year.

Definitely recommended.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh my!, January 7, 2014
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This review is from: Labor Day (P.S.) (Kindle Edition)
Not a particular fan of Joyce Maynard, but I downloaded this book because I thought I might like to go see the film, and it is my experience that films often play fast and loose with the story line. So.... I read this book in a little under 24 hours. Could not put it down. Loved that the narrator of the story was the 13-year-old son. Loved the whole good-hearted, misunderstood escaped convict story line. Loved the gentle reawakening of the damaged and hurt woman/mother. Just read it. It is worth every minute. In my top 100 for sure.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, July 6, 2009
This review is from: Labor Day: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Six days in the life of a thirteen-year-old boy, over Labor Day, profoundly affect his life, and the life of his family. Telling the story through the protagonist, Henry, author Joyce Maynard nails the angst and desires of a young teen, and aptly describes his emotions as he deals with change within his troubled and wounded family. The other characters in this slender book are drawn just as sympathetically. Poignant, touching, even bittersweet, this novel is a powerful lesson on love and loss. From the haunting image on the cover, to the last six words, I was captivated. There will be no dust on this moving book, as I'm sharing it with my friends and family.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars touching, July 30, 2009
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Cathe Fein Olson (curled up with a book) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Labor Day: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Henry is a misfit 13-year-old who lives with his depressed and slightly mentally unstable mother. On a rare shopping trip to Pricemart, they are approached by a injured man (a prison escapee) who talks them into taking him home. Both mother and son quickly become attached to him.

While that scenario may seem a bit far-fetched, the book was really very good. The characters and their emotions were real and believable and the story was very sad and touching. I enjoyed it very much.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been slightly more powerful, January 21, 2011
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J. Shetrone (Christiansburg, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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I had mixed feelings about this book. In one way, it's a gentle story about love and a teenaged boy who has had to be the adult for way too long. On the other hand, it feels a little contrived. A woman and her son bring into their home a strange man without even a flicker of worry or doubt or suspicion? Even before they find out he's an escaped convict, you'd expect the situation to raise some flags. But, if you can accept the premise, the story of their Labor Day weekend does its job to pull you through. You can understand Henry's swinging emotions about the situation -- after all, he's still a child -- and his mother's ability to fall in love so easily. Do we believe Frank's story? All that matters is that Adele believes it.

Where the book really lost me was in the chapters following the climax of the novel. I think way too much was said about the resolution, and the story would have been even more compact and powerful if that section had been cut into a single chapter.

Overall, I'm not sorry I read it, but I think it could have been better with a minimum amount of work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good beach read, February 20, 2014
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This review is from: Labor Day (P.S.) (Kindle Edition)
The writing flows well, but the story is unrealistic. One knows from the start that the boy (he's a kid) in the story is going to reveal that an escaped convict is hiding out in his home. So letting the boy leave the home constantly doesn't make sense. I can't see the convict or the mother allowing the boy to leave. True the mother does suffer from depression, but jeopardizing her freedom and the safety of her son for the sake of a man she has only known for hours is hard to swallow. Nor can I see the convict leaving the home with the family on outings and taking a chance of arrest. The book did inspire page turning because the reader is waiting for the whole situation to explode.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet and breathtakingly beautiful, February 3, 2014
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Summer 1987 is winding to a close. Ever since school let out, thirteen-year-old Henry has "kept wishing something different would happen, but it never did." Going shopping for school clothes with his mother, Adele, is about as much of an adventure as he's likely to get. After all, since her divorce from Henry's father, Adele - once a spirited dancer - has become more and more reclusive, and now she regularly goes weeks at a time without ever setting foot beyond the boundaries of her own property. Henry doesn't have any friends from school, so aside from occasional outings with his father's new family, there's really nowhere for him to go. He's spent his summer watching television, playing solitaire, and - out of sheer boredom - cleaning the house.

It's in that store, however, that Henry and his mother meet an enigmatic stranger, bleeding, asking for their help. Tenderhearted Adele invites him home, and even when Frank admits he sustained his injuries escaping from prison, she and Henry can sense they have nothing to fear from this quiet, sensitive man. Over the course of one long weekend, all three of their lives will be changed forever.

It's a perilous premise that Joyce Maynard offers us in "Labor Day." Almost from the beginning we know what has to happen. Yet as Frank and Adele, each hiding away from the world, discover each other, and Henry begins, tentatively, to feel out his own identity apart from his mother's consuming loneliness, the enchanted web they weave around their secluded little home draws in the reader as well. We believe in them, believe in this nascent family of damaged people grasping at a little bit of happiness so long denied, believe with them even though we know better.

This is one of those rare novels I can't find the words to praise highly enough. Somehow, Maynard has managed to spin out over nearly 250 pages the concentrated passion of a poem. I read most of this novel sitting up in bed at night, next to my sleeping husband, bundled up against the mid-winter cold. I finished it sitting in the big chair in the living room, again at night. There was a book in my hands, a thing of paper and ink that's right here beside me now as I write this review, in case I should need to check a reference or include a quote. And yet. I don't remember it being that way. I remember the heat of early September in a house without air conditioning, the quiet way the air settles in a house where nothing much happens, the smell of ripe peaches and chili and newsprint, the touch of a strong yet gentle hand, a silk scarf, the sting in my palm of the baseball I somehow managed to catch in spite of myself. I remember Henry, not quite ready to leave off being the child he didn't realize he no longer was . . . Frank, staying so good in a world that had hurt him so badly in just about every way a person can be hurt . . . most of all, perhaps, Adele, fragile and strange, a bit out of place among humans, capable of rare passion and empathy - in the words of another character, "like she was missing the outer layer of skin that allows people to get through the day without bleeding all the time."

"Labor Day" is a tremendous accomplishment of a novel. It's a coming of age and a romance, a straightforward story rich with nuances and undercurrents of meaning. And the understated eroticism . . . oh yes! This is a book that could have gone wrong in so many ways, and yet goes exactly right in every way. I recommend this wholeheartedly to any reader who enjoys quiet, character-driven fiction that doesn't shy away from the less glorious truths about being human.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taking a stranger home, February 2, 2014
This review is from: Labor Day (P.S.) (Kindle Edition)
I received a copy of this book from William Morrow and Goodreads First Reads for the purpose of providing an honest review.

This coming of age story was a solid 4 star read for me. It was a relatively short book that could easily be read in a single evening. There is really of lot of story packed into those few pages. This book has recently been made into a movie and I always like to read the book first before seeing the movie, although I rarely follow through with actually watching the movie.

The story is told from the perspective of 13 year old Henry. Henry lives with his divorced mother, Adele. They lead a rather lonely life. Adele does not really like to leave the house and often sends Henry inside to complete errands while she waits in the car. On a rare shopping trip to buy needed school clothes for Henry, they meet a man who asks them to take him home with them. Adele agrees and the bleeding stranger comes home with them. They soon learn that the stranger, Frank, is an escaped convict. Frank is kind to the pair and a bond is developed. As the book moves forward, we learn the background stories of both Adele and Frank which make their character both more likeable and relate able.

I found the writing of this book to be superb. The characters were very real for me and the voice that it was told in was authentic. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a slightly different coming of age story. I will be looking for more works from this author. I do think that this story could make an excellent film so I am more interested in seeing the movie after reading the book than I was before. Now I need to see if I can get a chance to see this movie.
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Labor Day: A Novel (P.S.)
Labor Day: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Maynard (Paperback - August 3, 2010)
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