Can you remember what Labor Day meant to you when you were 13 years old? Back then the last weekend of the summer, most of us were busy doing some last minute back to school shopping with mom. We were probably a bit nervous, but anxious for the new school year to begin.
For Henry, the 13 year old narrator of Joyce Maynard’s soon to be released new book (pub date July 28): Labor Day: A Novel, this is a time that will dramatically change lonely, friendless Henry’s life forever.
Henry has lived alone with his long divorced mother, in
since he was very young. His mother, Adele has become somewhat of a recluse over the years and although her love for her only child Henry is deep, she burdens poor him with far too much baggage than a mother should. Henry is all she has left since his father left her for another woman many years earlier. Holton Mills, New Hampshire
On a rare shopping excursion for some back to school items, an unlikely event takes place, which forms the foundation for much of the story. A bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry in the department store, and he tells Henry he needs help. Henry introduces Frank to his mother, and they take the stranger home with them for the long Labor Day weekend. Before long they learn that “the man with kind eyes” has just escaped from prison. But all is not as it first appears on the surface.
What happens next simply captivated me, but I can't say much more without revealing too much.. The author captured the character of Henry beautifully, a wounded adolescent who felt responsible for his mother’s sadness.
Labor Day is a wonderful coming of age story that might bring a tear to the eyes of some readers. Gripping with emotion, and the power of love and forgiveness, in the end you will be thrilled you read this wonderful story. Fewer than 250 pages, I read Labor Day in just one sitting, and it will surely be in my Top 10 list for 2009. There was no way I could put this rare find down before learning what would happen to the lives of Henry, Adele and Frank. DO NOT MISS this one; highly recommended.
RATING - 5/5 - COMPLETED - 6/29/09
Where From - My Stacks (review copy)