by Joyce Maynard
Joyce Maynard is an author of nearly four decades and a teacher of writing. She tells her students that “the world of literature would be a lot less interesting if the characters in novels always behaved in a totally sensible, prudent fashion…..I remind my students that if a story is going to unfold in a compelling manner, you’d better get your characters into a challenging situation, if only to get them out of it eventually.”
Labor Day is true to the author’s words. The story begins with the agoraphobic, single parent Adele taking Henry, her shy and lonely thirteen-year-old year shopping for school clothes. While at the store, a man whose leg is bleeding and a thick line of blood clots in his hair asks Henry if he can go home with him and his mom, the “good-looking woman.”
The man is Frank Chambers, a man with a past. In the next five days he will dramatically affect the lives of Adele, Henry, and himself in ways which alter all three lives in both the present and future. There are silk scarves, pie-making, baseball, Friday dinners at Friendly’s, and the reminder that growing up can be messy, scary, and confusing, especially if a friendship destroys other relationships.
The characters in Labor Day do not always behave in a totally sensible, prudent fashion. This reader is glad they did not as their impulsiveness creates a story which may not be likely but will engross you on a lazy summer afternoon.