Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: Labor Day & Giveaway

Summary: With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry—lonely, friendless, not too good at sports—spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele—a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.

But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others—especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for.

In a manner evoking Ian McEwan's Atonement and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy—and the man he later becomes—looking back at an unexpected encounter that begins one single long, hot, life-altering weekend.-- William Morrow

I decided to read LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard in preparation for a BlogTalk Radio show. I didn't know when I sat down to read it that I would become so wrapped up in this novel. LABOR DAY was just so easy for me to read, and I didn't want to stop until I finished it. I am such a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and LABOR DAY definitely was that! In fact, LABOR DAY was chosen as a #1 IndieNext Pick for August 2009.

I thought the premise of this book sounded interesting -- a strange man goes home with a young boy and his mother over the Labor Day weekend. It seemed like a simple enough story, but I had no idea how much deeper it would be. As I read LABOR DAY, I kept waiting for something bad to happen to Henry and his mother -- for a shoe to drop if you will. Surprisingly to me, this book wasn't like that. This story gently lured me in and the writing was just so beautiful. LABOR DAY really made me think and yet still touched me on so many levels .

The characters in this story were all flawed and also very real. Each one had their own set of insecurities and issues, and Henry and his mother were especially vulnerable. I absolutely loved the character of Henry, and I thought he was the perfect narrator for this story. Henry was 13 years old and he had all of the normal teenage issues associated boys that age. He was caught between being a boy and a becoming a man -- such a hard time under regular circumstances. I couldn't believe how real and honest the character of Henry seemed, and I couldn't help but be affected by everything in Henry's life. As an aside, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how well Ms. Maynard captured the essence of a 13 year old boy. I thought Henry's voice and feelings were spot on!

After I finished this book, I couldn't stop thinking about Henry. Don't get me wrong, the other characters made an impact too; but I was just so concerned about Henry and his well-being. To me, this book was ultimately about Henry growing up and learning about love and forgiveness. Even though the story took place over just a few days, there was so much impact on Henry's entire life. This book demonstrated to me how influential single things can be in a young person's life - the effects can be life-altering.

There were a few scenes in the book that have really stayed in my thoughts. Without giving too much away, Ms. Maynard has Frank, the man who comes to stay with Henry and his mother, prepare some baked goods including a pie. Ms. Maynard gives detailed instructions about making a pie crust while also showing how it can serve as a metaphor for live. I loved the analogy and thought it was very well done. Evidently, baking is near and dear to the author's heart. You can read an essay written by Ms. Maynard about the importance of baking in her life (and her book) here.

I thought the BlogTalk Radio show with Ms. Maynard was extremely interesting. I was absolutely (am still am) blown away by how quickly she wrote this novel. The entire story in LABOR DAY takes place over a long Labor Day weekend -- around five days. Ms. Maynard shared that she actually wrote this novel in around the same time frame! It's almost as if she wrote the book in real-time -- how cool is that? She further added that not all of her books are written in this fashion! I was also thrilled that Ms. Maynard answered one of my questions during the show. I asked her if it was hard to write a book in the voice of a 13 year old boy? She said it really wasn't because she has a lot of experience being a mother to teenage boys. Evidently, LABOR DAY was a story that she was meant to tell and it just kind of poured out of her.

I highly recommend reading LABOR DAY. It's a pretty fast read, but it packs a powerful punch. I also think it would make an excellent discussion book for your next book club. There is a reading guide available to help facilitate your meeting, but I think it wouldn't be difficult to come up with some discussion topics on your own. Some topics your group might want to talk about include love, trust, parenting skills, loneliness, honesty, betrayal, and forgiveness. There really is a lot to explore between the pages of this book.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book!

For some reason, I received an ARC of LABOR DAY after I finished reading the hardback version. If you are interested in winning a brand-new ARC, just leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me what your plans are for the Labor Day weekend. If you'd like to double or triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this contest with a link back to this post. I will accept entries until Thursday, September 4th at 11:59 p.m. EST; and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!

100 comments:

Nicole said...

Sounds like a wonderful story. I definitely know the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop in a book. That must have added a wonderful tension to the book and a pleasant surprise at the end.

trishalynn0708 said...

Please enter me. :) And for Labor Day my family and I are going to a little fair that my town has. It has games for the kids, and lots of food. :)

lovestoread0708(at)yahoo.com

bermudaonion said...

Don't enter me - I have the book. I'm glad to know it's so good. I listened to the BTR show, too and was blown away that the book was written so quickly. We have no plans for Labor Day - Carl will probably work.

Kaley D. said...

I cannot wait to read this book; I have heard such great things about it! Thanks for your review! For Labor Day, my husband unfortunately works. So my daughter and I will
probably celebrate with a small picnic with friends. Great company, great food, and a pile of books! Goodbye summer, and welcome fall :)

Jill said...

I just got this from the library...looking forward to reading it even more now...great review!

Dixie said...

I'll probably be working on Labor Day. Not very exciting.
southrngal(at)gmail(dot)com

Beth F said...

I have a copy of the book and I'm so glad it's good. I've read other books by Maynard, so I have high hopes for this.

Kaye said...

This book sounds so wonderful. I'm always drawn to books set in New England and when I read "Friendlys" in your review, my mind instantly thought home and coffee fribbles. I'd just love to win this one. Thanks for such a great review and not giving away too many details of the story.

edev said...

I'm so intrigued! I'm also glad you said that about "waiting for the other shoe to drop" because that's exactly what I was thinking. Glad you eased my mind on that account! I'd love to read it.
No plans yet for Labor Day...just looking forward to the 3 day weekend to relax with my family.

Jennsbookshelf said...

This book has been on my wish list for some time! I'd love to be entered! We typically don't do much over Labor Day. Since my son goes back to school the following Tuesday, typically we just try to relax while we can. I'm also dog sitting over the long weekend, so adding a second dog to our full house will be very interesting. I'll need a great book to read to help relax me!

GirlwiththeBraids said...

I would love a copy of this fantabulous book! Unfortunately, we don't have anything planned for Labor Day. My family are the kind of people who used to plan stuff way ahead of time and then end up don't doing it. So now, we don't plan anything. ;P

This book is on my wish list at PaperbackSwap but I'm one of the last ones so that kind of stinks. I hope I win this book than! :)

Jo-Jo said...

I would love to win this one Julie. I'm just not sure what I will be doing for Labor Day weekend. This will be my first long holiday weekend without any kids at home, so it will be very quiet. Probably end up cleaning house to keep myself busy.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

~Tami said...

We are having a youth day at church. The last one was fun, even for the adults that were there! mymadakaja at yahoo dot com

Serena said...

I love when a book turns out better than you could ever have expected. This sounds like one of those books that will keep you reading until the end. I love those kinds of books.

Great review as always!

Jo-Jo said...

I blogged about your contest here.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Stacie said...

I have read about this book and have been wanting to read it as well. Our labor day weekend plans are always the same....the neighboring small town has "Sauerkraut Days" with a parade and free hotdogs and sauerkraut afterwards. Lots of kids games, talents shows, and fun times with friends!
Staciele(at)netins(dot)net

jpetroroy said...

Sounds really good. For Labor Day, my husband and I are going to Cape Cod --beach, bike rides, and relaxation.

Thanks!
JenP
jpetroroy@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

For the Labor Day weekend we are flying to Vancouver and enjoying a week's holiday. Thanks for this book contest. I am an avid reader.

Melanie said...

Thanks for your review. I really want to read this. I love coming of age novels. This Labor Day my husband will be out of town visiting friends and bike riding. My aunt is going to come and spend the weekend with me so I'm sure we'll go antiquing and maybe a museum. I'm sure there will also be lots of talking about books.

Marjorie said...

Sounds great, count me in, I am a subscriber.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Sue said...

I wish I had great plans for Labor Day, but it will be full of watching my boys play in their football games. Maybe we can squeeze in a barbecue.
Thanks for sharing it.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Rebecca C said...

Since I had foot surgery recently, I will be sitting on the couch with my foot propped up on pillows reading all the wonderful books in my TBR pile. And maybe, being waited on by my DH and licked by my little chi TAZ.

rebecca[dot]cox[at]charter[dot]net

Rebecca C said...

http://twitter.com/ccqdesigns/status/3428970302
Here's my tweet
rebecca[dot]cox[at]charter[dot]net

Anonymous said...

I plan to go to a retreat over labor day weekend...would love to read this book...thanks for the opportunity.

karen k
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds wonderful. Gosh, the time is moving so fast I forgot Labor Day is coming up so soon, so have no plans (yet anyway!). Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, holy Hell. Labor Day IS coming up, isn't it? You think I'd remember, with kids born around then!

Go on and enter me for this one. As I said at Win a Book, I'm a Joyce Maynard fan.

Maybe I'll spend Labor Day reading. That sounds like a plan.

Katrina said...

we will be spending some time in the pool and on the lake...I can't wait

ykatrina at hotmail dot com

teabird said...

Labor Day! eek. I don't know what I'll be doing, specifically, but I know I'll be knitting for the Red Scarf Project and writing some letters.

Ii do like Joyce Maynard's writing - please enter me for the drawing!

teabird17 ^^ at ^^ yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

My Labor Day week end plans are to hopefully spend it with my 2 1/2 yr. old granddaughter and her family celebration her mom's 30 someting birthday....her mom is my youngest daughter. I sure do enjoy being a grandma. Penny
hull.margaret@ocls.info

nfmgirl said...

Is Labor Day coming up? I didn't even realize it. I have no plans. I'll probably spend the whole day blogging!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

We never make plans for Labor Day. Too many people on the road. Sometimes we become some of those people. I think we're staying home this year. After all, we start back to work, (after 2 months off) the day after Labor Day.

Please enter me in the giveaway. Many thanks.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Vicki said...

I'd love to win this book.

For Labor Day, my family and friends are going to the lake for boating and a cook out! And if we're lucky, some bike riding! I will of course be taking LOTS of photos!!!

lelou2 AT ymail DOT com

Pam said...

Our plans for Labour Day are rather boring. We're hoping to be finished building our new deck by then so we can just relax. If it's nice, we'll likely go to the beach for a picnic.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Jenny N. said...

For labor day weekend, my family usually go out to a family dinner because in Canada the kids go back to school the following week.

jen4777[at]hotmail.com

Hollie said...

It's my turn to host our next book club so I get to pick the book we read. (There are six of us in the club and we relish the chance to get together each month, enjoy a little break from our lovely children, have a glass of wine and share our thoughts on the book we just read.)After reading your review, this is definitely the book I am choosing for us all to read. It sounds like just the kind of book we've all been craving! For Labour Day, we will likely stay close to home but enjoy the beach nearby for a few hours on whatever day is the nicest.

Linda said...

This book sounds wonderful. I like that you commented that the characters were "flawed but real". Labor Day plans include time with my son and his family - hopefully he will grill burgers.
lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

Mitzi said...

For the 3 day weekend, we plan a trip to the mountains and a little fishing. Looking for cooler weather!!!

mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot net

Neas Nuttiness said...

I'm always up for a chance to win a book, so please count me in. Thanks!

libneas[at]aol[dot]com

Neas Nuttiness said...

I forgot to tell you what my Labor Day plans were. Just staying home. Will probably cook out for dinner. Unless one of my kids sends me a plane ticket, and then I'll go in a heart beat.

libneas[at]aol[dot]com

Wanda said...

My plans are to stay home and read!!!
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Kristen said...

I'd love to win this one. For Labor Day this year we're going to meet friends at a zoo halfway between our houses, which is more than we usually do.

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot come

holdenj said...

It sounds like a great book. I wish I could win it and spend Labor Day reading Labor Day, instead of painting the trim on the windows on the back of the house.

Thanks!

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie said...

Would love to win. I plan on celebrating a friend's birthday during the holiday. Thanks:)

wheresmyrain said...

would love to read this (love the cover)

for labor day...barbeque to the nines, cul de sack style

wheresmyrain(at)yahoo(dot)com

Debbie F said...

Please enter me! Sounds wonderful!
Labor Day my family does a family cook out!
dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Nise' said...

In most of my August book related publications they have mention this book! Thanks for a great review and giveaway.

Beth said...

I'm going down to the shore for fried scallops and other such yummies, provided the weather is fairly decent!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Deborah said...

Your book giveaway sounds fantastic - if I don't win, I think I'll go buy me one. My plans for Labor Day? I am a Budget Analyst and work for the government. September is our busiest time of the year (since our money expires on 30 Sep). My husband and I are going to Cherokee, NC. We've booked a hotel room next to a bubbling brook, and we're going to pig out at the buffet at Harrah's Gambling Casino. We never gamble, we just eat there. I can't wait! If I am picked, you can notify me at dmj53(at)hotmail(dot)com

AmandaSue said...

I have no plans for Labor day since I have to work all day, I work in retail so we dont have holidays or special days off. Thanks for the chance to read this
unforgetable_dreamer_always(at)hotmail.com

cqueen2 said...

sounds great count me in

thanks

wadesherry@hotmail dot com

enyl said...

My family is having a family reunion in Atlanta Labor Day weekend
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

Lee P said...

I enjoy Labor Day. As a family, we all get together for a huge Barbeque. Thanks for this giveaway and please count me in.

chinook92(at)gmail(dot)com

Cheryl F. (The Lucky Ladybug) said...

We don't have any special plans for the Labor Day weekend -- we're just going to spend some quiet time at home :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!
blog[at]theluckyladybug[dot]org

Cheryl F. (The Lucky Ladybug) said...

Blogged
blog[at]theluckyladybug[dot]org

Cheryl F. (The Lucky Ladybug) said...

Tweeted
blog[at]theluckyladybug[dot]org

Book Junkie said...

Please enter me, I think we will just relax and enjoy the time of work...doing nothing sounds wonderful as well as sleeping in!

bjwaldron(at)gmail.com

The Tome Traveller said...

Don't enter me Julie, I have this in my TBR pile. Just wanted to say that your review was great, now I'm really looking forward to reading it! :)

Carey

Aimee said...

Great review and beautifully written. I'd love to read this book! acirucci(at)gmail.com

Virginia said...

Hey, Happy Labor Day! I am not sure what I will be able to do, but here's what I'd like to do: Float on down the lazy, shady part of a river in a big old inner tube. I would have a really good book, a day's supply of sweet iced tea, and Mother Nature for companionship. Heavenly!

bridget3420 said...

I plan on going over to my father-in-laws. We'll be grilling out.

bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

bridget3420 said...

Tweet

http://twitter.com/bridget3420/status/3460653051

Jenners said...

This was neat to read about her writing process on this book.... and it sounds really fantastic. Great review.

And our Labor Day plans involve attending kid birthday parties!

purplg8r said...

I am going to Chicago with some girl friends over Labor Day!

belle2211(at)yahoo(dot)com

purplg8r said...

And I blogged about the contest here

bridget3420 said...

Blogged

http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/2009/08/821-book-giveaway-list-2.html

bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Me! Me! I'd love to win/read this book.

Labor Day right after school starts for my kids, and right around the time of my youngest child's bday. We'll be at home, maybe some friends over. There WILL be cake and ice cream!

Bonnie said...

This sounds like a wonderful book, please add my name to the drawing.

We like to go to a nearby Flea Market with a farmers market and stands on Labor Day. Holidays like Labor Day are a big day.

I blogged about this in my sidebar under Other Blog Giveways.

http://redladysreadingroom-
redlady.blogspot.com/

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

CherylS22 said...

No big plans for Labor Day weekend - I'm working Fri & Sat, so will be laying low for the rest of the weekend.
Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

Amber said...

I would definitely love to win!
Thank you for the giveaway :)
hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

Amy said...

I would really love to read this book! Please enter me in your giveaway.
We aren't big travelers because we have 7 cats we rescued and they aren't good we people they don't know. It'll be quiet in Brooklyn and NYC over Labor Day weekend which makes it a great time to stay in town. We'll hit the green market in Park Slope, spend some time in the park and go for a boat ride, see a good movie, there are several I'm interested in seeing and hopefully go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Aimala127@gmail.com

Amy said...

I tweeted this giveaway at http://twitter.com/Amestir.

Aimala127@gmail.com

Carrie K. said...

This sounds like a great read - count me in!

I blogged about it here:

http://booksandmovies.colvilleblogger.com/2009/08/23/the-sunday-salon-august-23-2009-the-bookish-links-for-saturday-on-sunday-edition/

nnjmom at yahoo dot com

Thanks!

Rue said...

I'm not certain of my plans for Labor Day yet. I have Friday off as well as Monday, so yeah for a four day weekend. I'll probably get together with friends for a meal and some games one of those days and I'll have church stuff on Sunday, of course. Otherwise, I'm not sure what I'll be doing.
Thanks for the chance to win!
ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

Alison (Alison's Book Marks) said...

I was interested in this book when I saw it as the IndieNext pick for September, but after reading your review, it has moved to the top of the MUST read pile. Great review!!

Please enter me in your giveaway!

For labor day, we will do our usual BBQ hopping, ending with my husband's Fantasy Football draft and cook-out on Monday. Burgers, beer, and bocce ball. It doesn't get much better than that.

APSkap (at) comcast (dot) net

Marie said...

We have a pool party and a Baptism party that weekend -- so it's going to busier then usual. We usually just have a BBQ and hang out :-)

marielay@gmail.com

Amy said...

I blogged about this giveaway!
(http://homeofaimala.blogspot.com/2009/08/giveaways.html)

Thank you!
Aimala127@gmail.com

Deseray Ann said...

My family and I don't usually do anything special for Labor Day.

S. Krishna said...

Thanks for this review - I really want to read this one! For Labor Day, I'll be in NYC watching the US Open!

gaby317 said...

This sounds like such an absorbing read. Please count me in.

For Labor Day, my husband and I plan to visit my mother, brother, uncles and cousin in Boston. It'll be our first long drive with our new car, too. Then bbq in the backyard and relaxing in the North Shore, with cool drinks, mah jong, and maybe a book!

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

Tweeted:
http://twitter.com/nfmgirl/status/3627105251

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

Blogged it:
http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/2009/08/book-giveaways-in-blogworld-08-29-09.html

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Belinda M said...

No big plans for that weekend. Sticking close to home, resting and relaxing


Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at CoolCanucks.ca


bluebelle0367(at)hotmail(dot)com

Cindy said...

I don't have anything planned for Labor Day yet!

monkeyami1@yahoo.com

Cindy said...

I tweeted!
http://twitter.com/monkeyami/status/3646329002
monkeyami1@yahoo.com

Dina said...

We plan to go to the park and have a picnic! aitmama {at} gmail{dot} com

Dina said...

http://twitter.com/aitmama/status/3648898621

TeachingInHeels said...

I'd love to read it...

I don't have any plans other than to relax all weekend :)

SeeMJTeach@gmail.com

ossmcalc said...

I had so hoped to be able to go to my grandson's third birthday party on Saturday. Due to family problems, I am not invited to attend. So, I am going to take my dad back to his hometown for a parade at 10 AM on Saturday that means so much to him. I will be thinking about my grandson.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I tweeted http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/3649037969

thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

jrs0020 said...

The story sounds interesting!
I'm planning a picnic and yard games for Labor Day; inviting some neighbors and relatives.

jrs0020 said...

I tweeted here:
http://twitter.com/ferbird/status/3650131922

LoveMyCoffee said...

I've had my eye on this book for awhile now. For Labor Day we are having family come in from out of town. Lots of barbecues!

Dutchlvr1(at)aol(dot)com

Andrea said...

I'd really like to read this. For this Labor Day weekend, I'll be moving back into college to start a new semester.
andie.v107(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anita Yancey said...

We plan to just stay home and have a cook out for family and friends. This book sounds wonderful. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Debbie Rodgers said...

We're going to Prince Edward Island to visit friends.

tatamagouche AT netbundle DOT ca

heatherzilla said...

This sounds like a great book. We plan to go to the beach on Saturday and a BBQ on Monday.
heatherzilla(at)care2(dot)com

roxxyroller said...

My plans for this Labor Day weekend are just to do nothing but spend time with my hubby and doggies!
roxxyroller(at)hotmail(dot)com

roxxyroller said...

I follow you on Twitter! (roxxyroller,coolcanucks)
roxxyroller(at)hotmail(dot)com

roxxyroller said...

I tweeted this giveaway!
http://twitter.com/coolcanucks/status/3765808245

I would love to win this, please enter me in the giveaway, thanks!
roxxyroller(at)hotmail(dot)com