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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 January 2014
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. He now seemed like a guest we had invited over, but all three of us knew how he came to be there. Frank seemed relaxed, calm and overjoyed, part of a family, now having fallen in love with Adele. They begin to explore the possibilities of a future together however improbable.

Henry had much responsibility thrown onto his young shoulders. Keeping Frank's location secret confused him. He had not known him for more than a few days, he was an escaped convict on a murder charge and despite his mother's happiness, his priority was to take care of her. He also had to cope with his own emerging sexuality. He also had involvement with his father and step-family with Saturday 'family feasts' in restaurants. How Henry loathed them. Henry becomes unsettled and makes choices, some good, some bad (the malicious Eleanor).

Joyce Maynard writes beautifully and fluently with an easy-flowing characteristic style. The characters are well-drawn and the atmospheric exuberance concealing the underlying tension of harbouring a convict comes across convincingly. Accepting the improbability of the latter, this is an enjoyable and entertaining book. Remarkable and unusual in it's content. It is poignant, moving, with love, sex, grief, heartbreak and devastating treachery. An excellent, unforgettable read.
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on 26 January 2014
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2014
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. They're all broken in some kind of way, which makes them even more interesting. Love plays an important role for every main character, which is such an important message. I also liked seeing into the mind of Henry, it gives the story something extra. I loved this book and am so happy I had the chance to read it.
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on 25 December 2015
I bought this book after watching the movie. I really enjoyed reading this book its a sweet, slow moving story but you really believe in the characters and want them to live happily ever after even though you know its not going to be that simple. This is an easy to read book. Great to take on holiday.
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VINE VOICEon 19 August 2014
How lovely - a book that is every way as good as the film.

I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago and loved it, absolutely spellbound, so immediately ordered the book. Like the film, the book held my interest from start to finish, I hoovered it up. Some people may find it too slow but, as a story of wrong turns in life, second chances and redemption, "Labor Day" is second to none.

Beautifully written characters who spring to life from the page.
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on 22 May 2014
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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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 30 March 2014
I decided to read this seeing that the film was coming, and knowing I'd want to watch that. As I read, I could picture quite easily the two leads in their roles, both intense and intelligent actors who can use the requisite body language to inhabit these two deep characters.

I loved this. I loved that it's written from the son's point of view - the boy with a single mother, who doesn't leave the house, but who, for some reason, lets the stranger into her home after meeting at the supermarket the weekend of Labor Day, even knowing he's an escaped convict.

It's tense, and beautiful. The writing really has you in the scene, seeing the attraction between Adele and Frank, with 13-year-old pubescent Henry feeling like an intruder. And conflicted - he likes Frank, he wants his mother to find love, but he feels cut out and worries about being abandoned.

You feel the heat of the setting, a blistering hot holiday weekend with three people drawn together in a tempestuous pot of attraction and pain.

Frank is instantly a safe presence and a father figure, one that Henry fights against, who calmly teaches recipes and baseball. Adele is a tortured soul who slowly, Henry narrates a backstory for. And Henry holds it all together, gradually letting us in on Frank's past, his own split family and adolescent secrets.

It's a fairly short novel at 250 pages but one you ache to know how it will end - will Adele and Frank be able to stay together? Will Henry's anger and fear at his mother's love for another make him do something desperate?

I loved the ending, I found myself emotional several times throughout the story. I'll definitely be seeing the film and looking out for more by this author.

Very, very well-written with a strong trio of characters.

My edition contained an author interview and notes for reading groups which I found increased my ponderings of the book after I'd finished.
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on 17 November 2013
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard is an amazing story. I have never read a novel by Joyce Maynard before. As I love reading so much I love to explore new authors. Here I give full praise to Joyce Maynard for the novel Labor Day. I highly recommend Labor Day to all readers and book clubs it is a story that will touch your heart.
Thirteen-year-old Henry is the young unforgettable adolescent narrator of Labor Day. Henry and his mother Adele rarely leave their house in the Holton Hills New Hampshire . Little do they both know that their lives are going to change forever. One Thursday while shopping in Pricemark a bleeding man named Frank Chambers asks Henry for help asking if he can come home with him and his mother and stay with them.
Frank tells Henry and Adele the reason his leg is bleeding is because he fell out of a two storey hospital after he had his appendix out. With the temperature getting hotter leading up to labor day weekend the police on TV said a man named Frank who was serving a prison sentence has escaped from prison and is a very dangerous man.
Joyce Maynard Labor Day has been made into a film starring the lovely Kate Winslet. The novel Labor Day is one New York Times bestselling books. About Joyce Maynard she has been a reporter for the New York Times, a magazine journalist, a radio commentator, and a syndicated columnist as well as the author of seven previous novels, including To Die For, and The Good Daughter. Joyce Maynard lives in Mill Valley, California. Review by
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on 13 April 2014
The film wasn't very good, but the book is incredible. Very different from the last book of hers I read, which was TO DIE FOR. I completely got lost in the world of the characters and found it touching.
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on 10 July 2012
I read this book in one sitting...I just couldn't put it down.

Joyce Maynard has written a sublime paints a picture of a deep, yet flawed love between a mother and a son.

I loved it.
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