Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day weekend, for most, is a time for celebration, a last fling before the seriousness of school and fall set in.

In Joyce Maynard’s new novel, “Labor Day,” the holiday weekend is not quite a party for one family in a small New Hampshire town. It will be a time of life-altering occurrences that would shape their futures forever.

Thirteen year old Henry and his mother, Adele, are shopping for school items when they are approached by a bleeding man asking for their help. So they take him home, to find out later that the man, Frank, is an escaped convict on the run. He somehow cajoles Adele into letting him stay while the police search for him, and she agrees. This would be the beginning of a six-day odyssey for Henry and his mother that neither of them could ever have imagined.

As the story unfolds, through Henry’s voice, the reader is taken through Henry’s family history of a bitter divorce, miscarried babies, remarriage and new siblings and his mother’s gradual loss of her grip on reality. It seems as if Frank is somewhat of a savior come to turn their lives around. He gives Henry the attention that he craves from a father-figure, and to Adele he gives companionship and adoration that she has been without for so long.

In a mesmerizing way, Frank weaves his way into their lives, making beautiful promises that he could never keep. When Henry begins to realize that this idyllic situation is doomed, it’s up to him, as man of the house, to save his mother from certain heartbreak, if not incarceration.

Maynard spins a fascinating story of damaged people seeking the one thing they long for – love. It’s intriguing to watch these characters go through their paces, all the time wanting to yell at them “don’t you know what’s going on here?” and “how could you be so stupid?” But wrapping her tale up with a satisfying ending, the reader can take away a sense of completion for Henry’s family and that is a gift in itself.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I LOVED this book; great review.