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Labor Day: The Movie Looks Better

posted Jan 29, 2014, 5:07 PM by Unknown user
Jessica Cunningham

        The book
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard begins with a normal trip to the grocery store for back-to-school clothes for 13-year-old Henry and his mother. It’s been Henry and her as his small family for a while, since his father left them for his new wife, baby, and life that he keeps trying to force Henry to be a part of. Since he left, it’s been Henry’s job to keep his mother happy while she fights through depression and her fear of the outside world. On this particular trip on Labor Day weekend to the store, however, they run into Frank, an escaped convict on-the-run who needs a place to stay, offering to help out around the house in exchange. They harbor Frank in their home for a few days, where he teaches Henry to throw a baseball, bake a perfect pie, and perform the manly jobs he hasn’t been taught. As the story progresses, Henry’s mother and Frank begin a relationship, slowly helping to draw her out of her shell and combat her anger at Henry’s father for leaving as well as fear of the public.The three of them plan a happy future, in which there’s a way they can stay together. The cops are still on the chase for Frank, though. Will he get to stay and dream out the life they imagined or will he be hauled off to prison again for a crime that doesn’t seem happened the way the court said it did? Read to find out!

The book was okay at best. There were subtle moments of really well-done writing, particularly when describing the characters. The story is an interesting one, and Maynard does a good job of helping the reader to understand the way all the characters are, and to build sympathies for them. It was also a relatively short book, so if you’re looking for a quick read, it’s a good one to go for. The book, however, is also slow-paced, so it’s not as action-packed for those that enjoy those kind of books.

My biggest problem with the book was how awkward it got at points. The book involves a lot of talk about puberty, sexual interactions, and the like. It was done almost to a point of untastefulness. For anyone who doesn’t enjoy reading books like that, I’d warn against it. My second biggest problem with the book was the formatting. She didn’t use any form of quotation marks which made many of the parts hard to decipher dialogue from the description.

What I probably enjoyed most about it was some of the snippets of quotes from the book. One of my favorites was, when describing what losing love was Henry says, “You are like one of those ceramic hedgehogs with the plants growing on it that the person who bought it forgot to keep watered. You are like a hamster nobody remembered to feed.” There were many points of poignant, childlike acknowledgement of what his mother was going through, as well as observances about the world that were very well thought out. I enjoyed reading those a lot.

In all, the book was all right. On a lazy, rainy Sunday it’d be a good book to curl up with. But if you’re looking for something to keep your attention, to keep you interested and enthralled, this book doesn’t really do it. The movie depiction of Labor Day comes out tomorrow starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. The Knight Writer will be reviewing the movie and making comparisons between the versions, so be sure to check it out!