Friday, January 3, 2014

Labor Day: A Novel by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day: A Novel by Joyce Maynard
(e-book edition from

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     As you can see from the image of the cover of Joyce Maynard's book, La- bor Day: A Nov- el, her book is coming to the big screen as a major motion picture. This was, undoubtedly, an exciting development for Joyce Maynard and readers who are fans of the book and her writing.

     I am always fascinated by the process of turning a major novel into a film. Even though I'm always fascinated, I usually end by admitting that I like the book more than the movie. Yes, I do realize that a film maker might have different considerations for the crafting of a visual story than does the author for creating a story since the scenes will only be seen as images in a reader's mind. Nonetheless, it remains fascinating to me and, if I'm honest, I am happy that some of my favorite novels have been taken to the big screen. But first, let's take a look at the book.

I'm with this woman on
this one! Yeah, Labor Day!
     The setting is Holton Mills, a smallish town in New Hampshire where thirteen-year-old Henry and his mother, Adele, live in relative seclusion. Henry tells us that his father has left, remarried and now has another family; so, it is Henry who tries to help his broken-hearted mother. Adele's somewhat fragile existence leaves her reclusive, seldom going out, hiding her sorrow and her secrets from the world.

     On Labor Day weekend, Adele and Henry go to Pricemart to get Henry pants for school and take home more than they bargained for --a stranger in need. What they don't know is that the mysterious man, Frank, is an escaped convict who had been sentenced to prison for murder.  Frank is looking for a way to escape the authorities as they search for him, a "dangerous criminal".

     In this coming-of-age story, Henry learns many valuable life lessons. On the surface, learning how to throw and catch a baseball and how to create a perfect pie crust, Henry never imagined could be transferable skills. Henry learns other life lessons too, like learning who to trust, who is family, and how betrayal can impact everyone's life.
Major League Baseball Playoffs and
the World Series--in October.

     LABOR DAY is the holiday scheduled for the first Monday in September. As a celebration of the American labor movement, it commemorates the social and economic successes of American workers. The national recognition of workers' achievements in adding prosperity and well-being to the country is usually marked by time off work, barbecues, the beginning of NFL and college football seasons, but also the final weeks of baseball season (culminating in the World Series and Playoffs in October).

A woman in "labor" works hard to
give birth to her child. Adele's
labor and miscarriage(s) led
to her being stuck in one place,
unable to move forward.
     At first blush, we might think the book is titled Labor Day, because the story takes place over the Labor Day weekend. And we would be right--to an extent. Taking a closer look at Joyce Maynard's subtlety, we realize women give birth, they go into labor to bring forth the fruits of their work, a child. Indeed, in the story, Adele has several pregnancies that end in labor and miscarriage that produce no child--Adele is stuck, not really living life. If we look at Frank, Adele and Henry's weekend, what they labor to produce is something that, metaphorically, takes on a life of its own. The result is Adele is able to move forward in life again. Henry, too, moves forward. From being an angst-driven thirteen-year-old and "Husband-for-a-day," to moving forward in life and taking responsibility for his actions and choices--no longer stuck with his mom (Adele) in her sorrow.

Frank helps Henry learn how to play baseball better
by teaching him how to hold, throw, catch, and bat a ball.
     We assume that at some point Frank will be caught and returned to prison to finish his sentence. We don't know when or how, but before the story is played out. As I read, I felt Henry's confusion about how he felt about Frank. Sometimes wanting to "play ball" with Frank and sometimes wanting to call the police and turn him in. Is Frank good or is he a real criminal? Henry's confusion of his feelings was deliciously played out, in the end, providing a wonderful fulcrum for Henry to learn about what is really important in life.

     As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this post, Labor Day, the book, is coming to theaters. It is slated for release on January 31, 2014. The Director is Jason Reitman; Writers, Joyce Maynard (for the novel) and Jason Reitman (for the screenplay); the stars of the movie are Kate Winslet as Adele, Josh Brolin as Frank, Tom Lipinski as (young) Frank; Dylan Minnette as Henry (at 16); and Tobey Maguire as Henry (Older). I was able to obtain for you a trailer of the new movie from YouTube. Please enjoy the preview.

     Just from looking at the trailer, I can see some differences from the book, but hopefully, that will be OK if the movie has turned out well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Until then, you still have time to read the, go for it.

     I enjoyed reading Joyce Maynard's book, Labor Day. Ms. Maynard wrote a wonderful coming-of-age, I'm sure, that will linger on in my memory. Her book was a very easy book to rate. I gave this novel a good rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. It deserves this good rating. I give it a thumbs up and report that I am happy I read this lovely, easy read.

About the Author: Joyce Maynard.
Ms. Maynard is an American author
who writes in the genres of fiction, family
and parenting; she also writes for the
newspaper and does columns and articles
and essays. She is known for writing with
candor about her own life.

3.5 Stars out of 5.

Pages: 272
Publisher: Harper Collins
Reprint edition (July 28, 2009)
Sold by: Harper Collins Publishers
Language: English

I hope you have enjoyed this weeks post
of my book review of Labor Day by
Joyce Maynard.

Until next time...

White Rose.
...many happy pages of reading.


_________________________________________________________ - Labor Day: A Novel by Joyce Maynard; - Labor Day Cartoon; - Playoffs Baby; - Woman in labor; - "Play Ball"; - At the Movies; - YouTube trailer of Labor Day - About the Author: Joyce Maynard; 3.5 Stars out of 5; - White Rose.