Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day Movie Tie- In Edition: A Novel (P.S.)

Five words from the blurb: mother, love, stranger, secret, betrayal

Labor Day is set in a small American town and begins with thirteen-year-old Harry and his divorced mother looking after an injured stranger. They quickly realise that this man is an escaped prisoner, but he charms them so they agree to hide him from the police.

The characters were all beautifully drawn and I completely understood their motivations. The depiction of Harry was especially realistic and I loved his adolescent view of the world.

The book was packed with flaws, but some of these added to the book’s appeal – especially for those planning a book group discussion. The writing continually introduced good concepts, but the sentence structure was clunky and so the real beauty of the statements was watered down :

No doubt Richard’s father, like my mother, had once held his infant son in his arms, looked into the eyes of his child’s mother, and believed they would move into the future together with love. The fact that they didn’t was a weight each of us carried, as every child does, probably, whose parents no longer live under the same roof. Wherever it is you make your home, there is always this other place, this other person, calling to you. Come to me. Come back.

The plot was unrealistic and the treatment of the issues was heavy-handed, with twists and characters added just to ensure all sides of the debate were covered. The ending also tied things up too much for my liking – I’d have preferred the book to have ended about two chapters earlier, leaving some ambiguity to events.

This review sounds negative, but I loved the fact that the scenes were larger than life. This made them memorable and allowed me to forgive most of the flaws. I don’t recommend Labor Day to someone looking for great literature, but if you’re after a gripping story then this could be for you.


The film is released in the UK today. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve adapted it, but think I’ll wait until the DVD is released.

The thoughts of other bloggers:

 ….a unique and creative story about love, family, believing in others and loyalty. The House of Seven Tails

… one of the most ridiculously one-dimensional, unrealistic stories I’ve read in a long time. The Book Stop

I loved how this book challenged my thoughts on right and wrong and made me think about love and loss in a different way.One More Page

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  1. Kailana says:

    I am not sure if I want to read this. I might just watch the movie… It has never really called to me…

    1. Jackie says:

      Kailana, I think that might be a good idea – the writing isn’t amazing and so I don’t think you’ll miss much by just watching it.

  2. Yes, the over use of commas is a trap many fall into, myself included. The editing process should have cleaned that up though. Think I’ll opt for the movie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Yes, I sympathise with the author as I struggle from an overuse of commas too!

  3. I had the same sort of mixed bag of feelings about this book. I did find it unrealistic at times but ultimately a quick, satisfying read. I read it for book group, and we enjoyed discussing it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andi, This is perfect for a book group as there is so much to discuss – I’m a little bit jealous that I din’t have a group of people to debate it with too!

  4. Care says:

    Yes, yes, yes. I didn’t necessarily see the flaws as sense them; I really just skimmed the last part, when the plot sped up to achieve some kind of closure. Something just felt off. But it wasn’t horrible, either, and I actually liked reading the author’s explanation of it all.

    1. Jackie says:

      Care, I agree. It wasn’t terrible and it is hard to pinpoint exactly what is wrong with that last section. It just didn’t quite feel right. Glad I’m not alone in my thoughts!

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