Sunday, March 27, 2011

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

I fell in love with Joyce Maynard in reading "The Good Daughters" and couldn't help but return to her work right away.  Historically, when I fall in love with an author and read another book too quickly, it is a mistake and I quickly realize that I should space them out and not o.d. on them.  Not so with Joyce Maynard.  I can't get enough of her and this book just added to my craving.

On Labor Day weekend,13 year old Henry manages to coax his mother, who rarely goes out, into a trip to PriceMart, where they run into Frank, who intimidates them into giving him a ride. Frank, it turns out, is an escaped convict looking for a place to hide. He holds Adele and Henry hostage in their home, an experience that changes all of them forever, whether it's Frank tying Adele to the kitchen chair with her silk scarves and lovingly feeding her or teaching the awkward, un-athletic Henry how to throw a baseball. The bizarre situation encompasses Henry's budding adolescence, the awakening of his sexuality and his fear of being abandoned by his mother and Frank, who are falling in love and planning to run away together. Maynard's prose is beautiful and her characters winningly complicated, with no neat tie-ups in the end. A sometimes painful tale, but captivating and surprisingly moving.  I cried at many points of this novel.

I continue to be amazed how Maynard can make her novels light, easy to read with a "beach read" feel and yet, when you read the final page, you realize how many complex layers have been captured and that it is a much deeper novel than it felt like the whole time you were reading it.  Exquisitely wonderful.

Rating: 4.9  Fabulous!

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