So, I liked Labor Day. It was a quick read and interesting in that it was our second consecutive book club selection that featured a child as narrator. I really felt for the disconnected boy Henry who had only a reclusive mother for company. So, when the escaped convict Frank joins his family to hide out over a Labor Day weekend, I really hoped they would somehow become a family. It seemed an unlikely but believable story.
Henry, torn by his conflicting emotions toward each of his parents, needed Frank in the house so he could escape some of the dysfunction; he both loved his parents and desperately needed to escape from them. Lonely, weird Adele, Henry’s mother, was needy for sure, but Frank seemed to somehow fill both that need and Henry’s need for confidence and independence perfectly. I liked this family for Henry much better than the enforced stepfamily situation at his dad’s place which never seemed to have room for him.The only character I didn’t really buy was the anorexic girl at the end (whose name I cannot remember for the life of me!). She seemed somewhat contrived in that she was only there to raise complications in Henry’s new life and he spilled his guts to her too readily. Still, this was a nice book to read over a snow-day holiday. I liked it, didn’t love it, and will likely watch the movie when it shows up in the Redbox.
Ugh, Labor Day. A kind of uninteresting book about a kind of uninteresting holiday weekend. I started out writing a neutral review of this book, but the more I typed, the more I realized that I just didn’t like it. It’s strange that, considering the dramatic subject matter, the book didn’t resonate more with me. I put my Kindle down, thought “well that was nice,” and promptly forgot about it. It just didn’t make me FEEL anything.
And when you come out of a book knowing how to make a pie…too much time was spent on pie-making.
The biggest thing I didn’t enjoy about this book was that I don’t really feel like Frank’s visit really changed much for Henry in the end. I mean, it was supposed to be this life-defining weekend where he learned Important Life Lessons and all of his problems were fixed because of meeting the wise old convict who has plenty of sage wisdom to share, right? Well…no. OK, so Henry did eventually become a baker after THE PIE, but he says himself that he got into cooking because he basically got tired of eating frozen stuff. He ended up playing baseball in high school but didn’t indicate that it was Frank’s teaching that gave him the confidence to do it. None of his father issues were cleared up at all. His life with Adele was actually WORSE after Frank left. I’m glad they all got their happy ending but…was there a point to this story?
Oh, and authors? Please use proper punctuation. Would a few quotation marks have killed Joyce Maynard?
My final verdict: I would give this book 3 stars, with reservations. It wasn’t exactly bad but it didn’t stick with me enough to be called good.