Monday, June 29, 2009

Labor Day-Joyce Maynard

Labor Day
Joyce Maynard
Morrow, Jul 28 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061843402

On the Labor day weekend in 1987, thirteen year old Henry persuades his single mother Adele to leave their dump for a trip to the nearby PriceMart. He is ecstatic when she agrees as she never leaves their home except if she absolutely has to since his dad left her and remarried.

They meet Frank, who bullies them into picking him up. An escaped convict, Frank needs a place to hide from the law so he coerces the mother and son to take him into their home or else. However, as he holds them prisoner in their home, the trio forges a relationship with him in charge. He tenderly ties Adele to a chair using her silk scarves as gentle ropes; while feeding her. He teaches Henry, who hates sports as he stinks at them, to throw a baseball. He soon finds he wants more from the mom as they fall in love and consider fleeing together, and with her son who fears desertion from his mom and his surrogate father.

This is a super character study that focuses on the changing relations between three protagonists over the Labor Day weekend. A Stockholm syndrome effect occurs as each grows closer to one another. Henry is the glue that keeps the story line focused as he admires Frank’s courage and mentoring skills while also fears he will take his mom with him leaving her son behind when he goes on the lam. Fans will relish three seemingly losers finding something special during the long weekend together even as each anticipates no happy ending (the Sword of Damocles always lurking during the holiday) ;instead they expect to pay a steep price for six days and five nights of a fairy tale.

Harriet Klausner

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