Book Review: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

"Sometimes a cool breeze might be just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes a warm hand on the belly. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing is the best. You have to pay attention. Slow things way down. Tune out the rest of the world that really doesn’t matter. Feel what the moment calls for.”

― Joyce Maynard, Labor Day

The renowned author Joyce Maynard spins a stunning, moving story of love, sex, adolescence, and tragic betrayal as seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy—and the man he later becomes—looking back upon an unexpected encounter that begins one one long, hot, life-altering weekend. The story is resonant of Ian McEwan's Atonement and Nick Hornby's About a Boy.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

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.

My reaction to this novel...

This is the first book I've read by Joyce Maynard, and I initially assumed it belonged in the action/suspense genre. The first few pages were incredibly strange to me, but as I read on and finished the book, it left me speechless wondering what had occurred and how my heart was hurting. I'm not sure why, but the betrayal of the story that transpired really affected me. Like it actually happened to me. There are several instances in the novel where I am thankful to Frank for the way he handled other two main characters, even if there are occasions when I felt uneasy because I was anticipating a disaster (but to my surprise, nothing that I was anticipating happened). I was very pleased and relieved that I made the decision to read this book. It did not disappoint me, but it did break my heart.

I honestly can't get enough of the story. I can't express my admiration for this remarkable story enough. Even though I am aware that everything ended well, my heart still bleeds for Frank. In a world that had harmed him so severely in about every manner a person can be harmed, Frank was still managing to be so positive. I was really sorry for him. Such an occurrence is accurately depicted by the author, who does so with tenderness and objectivity. The accumulation of information and feelings throughout the book happens in such a conventional manner that the story's entire impact doesn't fully sink in with me as a reader until the book's final, spectacular ending.

I also want to express my admiration for the author for having the ability to transform the rather improbable primary premise into a pleasantly surprising nice and peaceful story. Even when Adele's decisions seem absurd, she still manages to create a sympathetic, complex figure. Even though one has to make a leap of faith a few times in the process, Adele's need for affection and Henry's longing for a father figure are both apparent. I don't generally read the kind of books Labor Day is, but I'm pleased I did. I was able to get lost in the intricate characters and the brilliantly crafted, moving story.

Reading this book will provide you the reading satisfaction you're seeking for if you're looking for a gripping, tearjerking and page-turning books that might be on a bestseller list. By reading this, you'll have a story that you will likely treasure for the rest of your life and may even recommend it to the next generation.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐(5/5)

"There was so much to remember, sometimes the best thing was to forget.”

It is so simple to overlook the events that take place in our daily life. However, forgetting is typically difficult, particularly if what occurred to you was devastating. Even if you make every effort to put the past behind you, it will always come back to haunt you during the worst possible moment.

“A lot of your problem was in your head. You see yourself screwing up, it’s going to happen.”

Most of the time, we are our own worst enemy. Because we are worried about failing, we are preventing ourselves from growing. We tell ourselves we can't do it and that we will fail even if we don't try to accomplish what we actually want to achieve because we are terrified of being judged. Being pessimistic might destroy our future and our goals. The course of our lives can be significantly changed by having faith in our own abilities.


Disclaimer: Booksreadbyhannel is not a business website. The opinions expressed here are unbiased and based only on my own feelings and reactions while reading the books I featured here in my blog. My reviews reflect my utmost sincerity. I paid for the books I review here out of my own pocket. Books provided by authors and publishers are otherwise specified.