Thursday, November 12, 2009

Labor Day - Joyce Maynard

Thirteen year old Henry is a bit of an outsider. He lives with his single mother, Adele, who is afraid of venturing outside of her house. Henry sees his father once a week for dinner at Friendly's - along with a step-mother who doesn't much like him, a step-brother who has the athletic talent Henry can't even dream of, and his baby half-sister. Henry doesn't have much in the friends department, and spends most of his time trying to figure out how to make his mother happy, and thinking about girls he'll never have the courage to speak to. Then, at the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, a stranger named Frank approaches Henry in the store and asks for a ride. Over the rest of the Labor Day weekend, Frank teaches Henry how to throw a baseball and how to bake a pie with the perfect crust. Frank also sweeps Adele off her feet and threatens the safe two-person family Henry has come to rely on. Relieved that his mother's happiness is no longer dependent upon him, but feeling isolated from the one person who always loved him best, Henry finds himself confused and unsure of where his loyalties lie. Labor Day is a compelling coming of age story. While I didn't find the writing anything special as I was going along, the final chapter really hit me emotionally and made me see why Maynard is such a popular author. I have another one of her books, The Usual Rules, on my shelf at home and I'm eager to get to it, along with all her others.

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