Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: Labor Day

I'm switching things up a bit this week - 10 on Tuesday will become 10 on Thursdays; today I am reviewing and TLC Book Tours book - Labor Day my Joyce Maynard. This is the first book that I have read by this author. She's written quite a few books - including a memoir which I am really intrigued by, unbeknownst to me, she loved & lived with J.D. Salinger. I am a bit intrigued by Salinger, so in turn, I am intrigued by the life of someone who loved him.

Labor Day is told from the point of view of a 13 year old boy, Henry. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mom who is a bit of a recluse. In preparation for the upcoming school year, they go shopping on the Thursday before Labor Day; while shopping, Henry is approached by Frank, a stranger who asks for a favor. Knowing nothing about this strange man, Henry's mom decides that they will help him out and she brings him home with them.

Early on, we find out that this strange man (Frank) is actually an escaped convict... Henry & his mom did not realize this when they gave him a ride back to his house, but he reveals this early on and Henry's his mom is not bothered by this. For inexplicable reasons, she seems to trust Frank.

Over the course of the Labor Day weekend, a relationship develops between Henry's mom and Frank - at times Henry is thankful for Frank's presence as his mom seems to be happy for the first time in as long as Henry can remember; at other times, he is jealous of the bond that is forming between them as he feels that he will be left behind.

I did struggle with the fact that Henry's mom trusted this man immediately. Granted, her mental health is questionable due to things that happened in her past (which are revealed in the book) but I still had a hard time believing that a parent would knowingly choose to put their child in what could be a dangerous situation. I think the author successfully captured the voice of a 13 year old boy, which would be difficult.

This book was a fast, engaging read.


Charbelle said...

I can believe a mom would do that. I completely understand what you're saying because I have a hard time with it. But I have seen and known mother's who put their needs and wants above everything else, which is sad but true. When mental health plays into it this can be even more the case.
Sounds like an interesting book.

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Hmm sounds like an interesting book and author.
Like you I'm surprised she trusted him so quickly and put her son in danger, but like Charbelle said- this happens all the time, never fails to shock me though.

Mandy said...

I'm slightly intrigued and will have to read this. It sounds like an interesting read.

Unknown said...

What interests me the most is how she captured the voice of a thirteen year old boy. That would be the biggest challenge. I agree that it is hard to grasp how a parent could put one's child in such a compromising position. However, as educators, we saw that happen too many times to count. Based on your review, I would read it. Good job!

Nora said...

That's cool that she lived/loved Salinger! The stories she must have.

Have you ever seen "Things we Lost in the Fire?" (if you love Benicio Del Toro, you'd love that movie. i ask because Benicio plays a recovering drug addict, but Halle Berry lets him be around her kids for a variety of reasons. I don't always get it either, but I guess maybe people have their reasons!?)

Amber said...

This seems like a very interesting book, especially since it's told from the perspective of a young boy!

Becky said...

This sounds interesting because it happens over a weekend - I can see why that might be a fast read. I'm also interested in the book she wrote about loving/living with Salinger!

Lisa-Marie said...

I can also believe a mum would do that, and not because I think they put their needs before their children's.

We live in such a fear filled world now, but actually I think think it's more rational to trust a stranger who speaks to you than to go around thinking everyone means your child harm. (having not read the book, I don't know if this is the case).

Also, from what I know, there seems to be a more lengthly process in the actual 'dating of people'. Here, it's fairly common to meet someone when your out, and move them in quite quickly - it's not uncommon for quite quickly to be the next day, or that night. We don't really do dating.

The book sounds intriguing, I am going to try it!

Marlys said...

Very interesting! It definitely sounds like one I would read! Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know about the Salinger connection either - now you've got me wanting to read her memoir too!

I agree that Adele's reasoning in accepting Frank seems faulty. As the mom of a young boy, I'd have a hard time accepting ANYONE into my house who I didn't know. But at the same time this seems to be a wonderful book with characters who really come to life. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it despite your issues with Henry's mom.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Wow - that sounds like quite an intense story! Thanks for the review!!