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Labor Day: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – 20 Nov 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (20 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061843415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061843419
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,051,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“Joyce Maynard is in top-notch form with Labor Day. From the perfect pitch of a teenaged boy narrator to the eloquent message of how loneliness can bind people together, this is simply a novel you cannot miss.” (Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of My Sister's Keeper and Handle With Care)

“[The] story is moving and fast-moving, affirming Maynard’s reputation as a master storyteller and showing her to be a passionate humanist with a gifted ear and heart. . . . Maynard illuminates the human experience.” (People (Four Stars))

“Maynard expertly tugs heartstrings in a tidy tale. ” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Maynard’s inventive coming-of-age tale indelibly captures the anxiety and confusion inherent in adolescence, while the addition of a menacing element of suspense makes this emotionally fraught journey that much more harrowing.” (Booklist)

“Maynard is in top form in this tale of love, betrayal, and forgiveness.” (Associated Press)

“Maynard deftly pulls the reader into the fragile lives of these three vulnerable characters and their preordained march toward the novel’s denouement. A marvelous read––perfect for one long sitting––this novel leaves the reader wishing it didn’t ever have to end.” (BookPage)

“ in top form in this tale of love, betrayal and forgiveness.” (Record Searchlight (Redding, CA))

“beautifully written” (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

“Maynard offers fresh insight into what constitutes family.” (USA Today)

“It is a testament to Maynard’s skill that she makes this ominous setup into a convincing and poignant coming-of-age tale.” (Washington Post)

“Maynard details Henry’s roller-coaster emotions for Frank – he is both jealous and grateful – and his mother’s emotional journeys – with skill and tenderness for the uncertain willingness of broken hearts to mend. The poignant results are revealing of our ability to forgive and to grow.” (Smart Money)

Labor Day is suffused with tenderness, dreaminess and love....first and foremost a page-turner...[it] puts back together the world that it definitely need to get a box of tissues.” (Newsday)

“a haunting and hopeful story” (Hartford Courant)

“[A] sweet, swift read that will leave you feeling good.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“surprisingly moving” (Arizona Republic)

“The novel is an extended meditation on the nature of love, grief and loneliness.... Maynard has created an ensemble of characters that will sneak into your heart, and warm it while it breaks. ” (St. Petersburg Times)

“Maynard gets inside the head of an adolescent boy who is grappling with his own identity and the mysteries of sex (while revealing the secrets of making perfect pie crust). ” (Salt Lake City Tribune)

“Maynard spins a fascinating story of damaged people seeking the one thing they long for – love. ” (Wichita Falls, TX, Times Record News)

“Labor Day is a startling novel of love, friendship, trust, treachery, betrayal, and the deep lessons that we learn in life.... It’s a powerful, poignant mix in the hands of author Joyce Maynard and a novel no one should miss.” (

“Labor Day is both a coming-of-age story and a love story- a tale of profound loss, redemption and soul searching that is not to be missed.” (

“Maynard has created an ensemble of characters that will sneak into your heart, and warm it while it breaks.” (St. Petersburg Times)

“But apart from being a successful thriller, this book is a fascinating portrait of what causes a family to founder, and how much it can cost to put it back on the right path. ” (

“At once beautiful and disturbing, this remarkable novel…is a moving read.” ( on LABOR DAY)

“an uplifting story told by a boy who is just beginning to understand what life is all about.” (St. Petersburg Times)

From the Back Cover

With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, lonely, friendless thirteen-year-old Henry spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming with only his emotionally fragile, long-divorced mother for company. But everything changes on the Thursday before the holiday weekend when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank asks Henry for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons, about the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting those we care about above ourselves—and that real love is worth waiting for.

From acclaimed author Joyce Maynard comes a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenager—and the man he later becomes.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ACB(swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER on 25 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The narrator of this story is 13 year old Henry, a self-confessed 'loser' who lives with his long-divorced mother, Adele, now an emotionally fragile, depressive and who has become a virtual recluse in the house. She guards a secret that later explains this. A few days before Labor Day, Henry persuades her to go on one of her infrequent trips to the supermarket. Henry browses through a magazine when a tall gaunt man, clearly bleeding, sees Henry as trustworthy and asks for his help, culminating in his mother, Henry and the man who introduces himself as Frank, driving back to their home for reasons known only to them. Once home, Frank Chambers freely admits he is an escaped prisoner, having jumped from a second floor window in the hospital wing following his appendix removal. The media state he is a murderer, dangerous and possibly armed. He asks to stay for a while as the police have an extensive search in operation. Adele and Henry agree with some consternation.

Frank, in a few days, changes the lives of Adele and Henry. It is difficult to distinguish the captor from the captive. Frank is honest, decent, practical and surprisingly likeable. Adele is transformed into a different person, full of life and energy, careful about her appearance, a beauty, picking up on her old passion for dancing, with Frank. Henry has never seen his mother so happy. Frank teaches Henry how to throw a baseball (he is useless at sport), how to make pastry and pies.

Isolated from the outside world, Frank's story emerges. Brought up by his grandmother on a farm, he returned from a 2 year stint in Vietnam to be coerced into a marriage that was doomed to fail and then wrongly accused of murdering his wife and child.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sharon on 26 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
I'd never heard of Joyce Maynard before so when a copy of Labor Day arrived from Helena at Harper Collins I really didn't know what to expect.

Labor Day is told from the point of view of 13 year old Henry, who lives with his mum Adele in Holton Mills, New Hampshire, and how his life changes when he and Adele come into contact with a mysterious stranger Frank in a local grocery store. It's clear that Frank is in need of medical attention but what is his story and how will their encounter with him change their lives?

This was an interesting tale of how a young naive boy has to adapt to the change in circumstances in his life, one minute he is having to be the adult of the household and shoulder more responsibility than a child his age should then the next he's having to cope with letting someone else take on this role. He's also dealing with conflicted emotions, craving the attention of a male role model but also having to cope with the jealousy that creeps in when it's clear that something is going on between Frank and Adele, as well as dealing with his own first experience of infatuation with a girl.

Set over the Labor Day weekend one thing's for sure their lives will never be the same again...

It's easy to see why this book appealed to film directors so will be interesting to see how well it adapts when the movie is released at the end of the month.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Suze @ Suze Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback
Henry is a thirteen year old boy who's living with his unusual mother. Adele used to be a dancer and she loved life until something tragic happened to her. Henry's father has a new family now and Henry hasn't got the feeling that he's a part of it. He belongs with his mother. She doesn't leave the house very much, sometimes it takes weeks before she even goes out to buy groceries. She tells Henry stories about the past and about life and he patiently listens to everything she has to say. He knows his life isn't standard and that he isn't a great sportsman and thus not very popular, but he doesn't mind. The only thing he wants is for something to happen and his wish does come through when he meets Frank. Frank needs help and Henry and his mother are the people who are giving it to him. Frank teaches Henry a lot of useful things in the few days they are spending together. He changes Adele completely and she finally comes out of her shell again. In the few days before Labor Day Frank makes both the lives of Henry and his mother a lot better. Henry has a lot of very important lessons to learn that summer and some of his actions have grave consequences.

The atmosphere in the house where Henry lives with his mother is tense. Henry has to be the responsible one as his mother clearly isn't able to be there for him in the way she should be. He knows that and because he loves her he accepts her the way she is. His relationship with his father is a difficult one and they aren't very close even though they see each other regularly. Frank understands Henry and Adele which is wonderful. Even though he's got a troubled background Henry and Adele don't judge him and let him tell his own story. I liked that a lot. Labor Day is such a beautiful story with special people in it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valerie L. Pate on 22 May 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is going to stay with me for a long time. It’s one of those novels that seems to take you on a very long journey, even though most of the story is set within a small suburban house in New Hampshire. It’s such a quick read, one would wonder at its significance, and yet it poses many questions for the reader to contemplate. What would you do?, it seems to ask us. What would you believe?

I was unfamiliar with Joyce Maynard before seeing this book in a shop one day and knowing that I simply must read it. This was before the edition with the movie tie-in was published, and the cover simply showed a bowl of peaches with the hands of a mother and a child reaching from separate sides of the bowl. I could guess from this illustration that the story was about a parent/child relationship; most likely revealing a coming-of-age revelation. It was just the sort of thing that appealed to me.

Adele and Henry’s relationship is indeed a large focal point for the book. Henry, the story’s narrator, is thirteen; definitely a coming-of-age story. The element that sets this book apart and makes for a very interesting story is Frank; an escaped convict who unexpectedly comes to stay.

I was pleased that my edition of the novel included a Q & A session with the author. It was a great opportunity to reflect further on what I had just read. Part of me was shocked that it was so quickly over. The other part of me was surprised that I wasn’t at all annoyed by the neat bows Maynard tied at the end. Somehow, for this story, it just seemed right.
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