Labor Day {Review and #Giveaway}

by Elizabeth

5M4B disclosure

labor dayThirteen-year-old Henry lives with his mother, Adele, a divorced woman who struggles with depression and possibly some mental health issues. The two have been alone for years as her inability to cope with life has grown worse and worse, and she has passed her burdens on to her son. Henry staggers under their weight, and is socially awkward and unpopular at school, lonely, friendless and bored. His own father has moved on now, with a new family. Although he dutifully takes Henry out for supper every Saturday night, in a ritual Henry hates, there’s no real connection between them, and Henry’s convinced his father prefers his stepson to Henry.

One sweltering Thursday just before Labor Day weekend, when Adele and Henry have made a rare trip to the mall, Henry meets a man who asks for a ride home. Henry feels honored to have been singled out, although somewhat confused by the man, who’s wearing an employee’s shirt and adding a fleece vest and a baseball cap whose tags he rips off. He’s bleeding, too. The man’s name is Frank, and Adele, drifting along emotionless as she does, agrees to give him a ride home.

Once back at their house, Frank tells the two how he hurt himself. Jumping out a window, after an appendectomy, escaping prison. The duo accept this with equanimity. By now, newspapers and TV news updates are screaming the news of a massive manhunt in the area. It seems obvious Frank will stay for a while. What perhaps isn’t immediately obvious is the ways in which the 3 will come together, and begin to bond in unlikely ways.

For years, Adele has been too depressed to really cook, but Frank takes over, making them chili the first night, taking Henry out in the back to play catch, and, in a memorable scene, teaching him how to make a peach pie from a bag of over-ripe peaches donated by a neighbour, a skill that will stay with Henry for the rest of his life. As the damaged and emotionally-fragile Adele begins to wake up, Henry vacillates between enjoying a father figure and panicking about what he might lose. A meeting with another emotionally-damaged teenage girl facilitates a denouement.

Although pretty much every mother who reads this book is mentally shouting at Adele for her incredibly dangerous decision to allow an escaped convict unfettered access to her son, I must say that Adele as a character was believable to me although not admirable. As we move through the book and learn more of her backstory, we see the events that so damaged her fragile psyche.

The events of the fateful weekend are narrated by Henry, a sensitive boy who is dealing with the many conflicting emotions of adolescence. Henry’s a sympathetic character and proves himself in general to be a reliable observer. Labor Day takes place over 6 days, days which change the shape of 3 lives forever.

Labor Day is set in the 80s, and author Joyce Maynard does a good job of recreating the era down to even small details. The novel is a fast read and while the characters are in some ways predictable, the story is sweet and shows ways that love can find you in unexpected places, and that families can be created in the most unlikely ways.

In honour of the release of the movie Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, the publisher is giving away a copy of the book. To win, just follow the instructions below starting with leaving a comment telling me: what’s your favorite kind of pie?

To earn an extra entry, be sure to check out my post about reading Labor Day in my bookclub and leave a comment over there. Leave a comment here and log in both of those entries in the widget below first!



Email Author    |    Website About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes who loves being part of the team at 5 Minutes for Books. She's lived in 7 countries and is currently in Oregon, where she spends most of her time with Iraqi refugees. She has 3 teens.

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicole Sender January 27, 2014 at 3:52 am

I like deep dish apple pie!

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2 DEBIJOT January 27, 2014 at 8:30 am

Cherry Pie is my favorite.

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3 Jen Voss January 27, 2014 at 10:02 am

My favorite pie is peanut butter!
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4 Marti Tabora January 27, 2014 at 10:12 am

Key Lime Pie is my favorite. Thank you.

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5 stephanie mcfarland January 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm

pumpkin pie is my favorite!

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6 Lauren January 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Apple pie is the best!
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7 shannon January 27, 2014 at 7:23 pm

My Grandma’s apple pie
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8 Kathy B January 28, 2014 at 1:47 am

Definitely my own homemade apple pie!

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9 shelly leatham January 28, 2014 at 2:38 am

My favorite pie is Egg Custard!
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10 Nancy January 28, 2014 at 8:31 am

I like chocolate pie or lemon meringue.

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11 Heather B January 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

Chocolate Creme Pie!! or anything Peanut Butter!

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12 Kristie January 28, 2014 at 9:41 am

I like Coconut Cream Pie :-)
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13 Terra Heck January 28, 2014 at 11:33 am

My favorite is Lemon Meringue pie. Thanks.

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14 Vickie Couturier January 28, 2014 at 12:46 pm

sweet potato pie

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15 anne January 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Lemon pie is my favorite.

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16 Julie January 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm

LOVE peach pie!!!

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17 Daniel M January 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm

good ol’ apple pie

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18 brittani adams January 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Chocolate!!!!! Chocolate pudding pie is delicious, apple i sok lol.

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19 Linda Kish January 29, 2014 at 12:23 am

I like dutch apple pie.

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20 Liz January 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I love key lime pie!

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21 danielle January 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Apple pie is my favorite!

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22 bn100 February 1, 2014 at 12:12 am

like apple pie

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23 Susan P. February 1, 2014 at 12:16 am

Tough choice – Key lime pie

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24 Teresa Thompson February 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I love peach pie.

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25 Rod Jackson February 1, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Love apple pie with cheddar on top

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26 Julie Smith February 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Does cobbler count? No? Oh, I think my favorite must be strawberry/rhubarb pie – rhubarb is SO seasonal, so we only have a short burst of time to enjoy it in! Thanks for the chance to win!
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27 Patricia Caradonna February 2, 2014 at 4:55 am

Blueberry pie is my favorite.

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28 Audrey Dawkins February 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

lemon for sure

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29 Shannon Baas February 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Mine is cherry.

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30 Christie Kammerer February 2, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Dutch apple is my absolute favorite.

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31 Kate F. February 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I like pumpkin pie.

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32 danielle lima February 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Mine is dutch apple.

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33 renee G February 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm

My favorite is pumpkin pie.

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34 Anastasia February 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Probably banana cream pie… but really, who can choose just one pie!! :)

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35 Susan Smith February 3, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Dutch apple is my favorite pie

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36 Birdiebee February 4, 2014 at 11:37 am

My favorite pie is pumkin.

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37 Lisa P. February 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm

My favorite is peach pie.
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38 Rachel H. February 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Pumpkin pie is my all time favourite!

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39 Misty Guye February 5, 2014 at 2:58 am

Fudge pie is my favorite!

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40 Naomie February 6, 2014 at 9:41 am

I love Pecan Pie!

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41 Faith I. February 6, 2014 at 1:11 pm

My favorite pie is Coconut pie.
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42 Jessica Wyatt February 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm

It’s gotta have chocolate in it, or else pie isn’t worth it! :P

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43 Xty Cruz February 6, 2014 at 11:28 pm

I love “buko” (coconut) pie

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44 Julie Lee February 6, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream!

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45 Christine L. February 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Rhubarb pie (all rhubarb, no strawberry mix) made with my grandmother’s crust recipe is my absolute favorite!

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46 Deborah Peck February 7, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Cherry pie is my favorite.

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47 kim February 7, 2014 at 11:38 pm

I love Lemon Meringue Pie

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48 Sherri February 7, 2014 at 11:55 pm

egg custard is my favorite kind of pie

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49 Desiree Dunbar February 8, 2014 at 8:36 am

My favorite pie is Pumpkin.

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50 Karen Drake February 8, 2014 at 11:45 am

My favorite kind of pie is cherry.

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51 Charlotte Padgett February 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Pumpkin is probably my favorite.

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52 Nicole C. February 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm

My favorite is coconut pie.

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53 Tricha February 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

peacan pie is my favorite

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54 Jaime Cummings February 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Key Lime Pie is my favorite.

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55 Misha Estrada February 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

In general, pie is my favorite food. I would have to say chocolate meringue.

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56 Janice Crespo February 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Banana Cream is one of my favorites :)
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57 bobbi February 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm

strawberry rhubarb is my favorite

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