Labor Day ~ Joyce Maynard
There isn’t much to do in Holton Mills, New Hampshire, especially for thirteen-year-old Henry. He lives with mis mom who has a strange history to go along with her current habit of running scared from the outdoors. Though he occasionally gets out of the house for school, as Labor Day weekend dawns, he admits to feeling like the summer has been a bit long. Relying on his talkative, albeit, generally anti-social mother and a hamster for company, Henry sticks it out, leaving, once a week, for excruciatingly awkward “family dinners” with his father and his new family.
Their routine carries on this way until one fateful afternoon on an infrequent trip out. Henry and his mother find a bleeding stranger in need of help. They take him home and their life begins to unravel and rebuild in the tiny confines of their home. Though both Henry’s mother and their guest have secrets that might deter others, they find solace in one another’s oddities. Along the way. Henry learns the beauty of baseball, the fun of pie making and the delicate balance some call the fine art of love.
Sad, beautiful and, quite often, just downright strange, Labor Day is a little book that packs a solid punch. Maynard is superbly skilled at getting right into the middle of the emotional spectrum, running everything from small child fears to the heart wrenching sadness of adults experiencing loss. Even though there are very bizarre elements of all of the lives caught up in the story, there are such ordinary, touchable bits of the whole mess that keep reality linked in. I’m not sure that I’d call this a beach read but it’s little and compelling enough to inhale in one deliciously emotional gulp.