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Labor Day  By  cover art

Labor Day

By: Joyce Maynard
Narrated by: Wilson Bethel
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Publisher's Summary

With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, 13-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.

©2009 Joyce Maynard (P)1997 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Maynard's inventive coming-of-age tale indelibly captures the anxiety and confusion inherent in adolescence, while the addition of a menacing element of suspense makes this emotionally fraught journey that much more harrowing." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about Labor Day

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good story but anti clamatic

Would you try another book from Joyce Maynard and/or Wilson Bethel?

I've read a couple of Joyce's books. They're like a peanut butter sandwich. Tastes good when you're in between new things to try. A staple. Good writing but missing something to make it great!

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A little creepy

It's not that this was a bad story, I just didn't like the way it was told. It found it creepy hearing the love scenes between Adele and Frank through the eyes (and ears) of their tween son, and the images of the mother telling the things that she did (which were completely inappropriate) to her son made me uncomfortable. Perhaps that was the intent of the writer. If so, well done. But I wouldn't recommend this book to someone, and I am not anxious to see the movie, like I usually am after a good book.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Laborous Listening

I am the one who fell for buying a book entitled Labor Day to listen to on a long Labor Day Weekend drive.

The book is depressing, slow, and not at all realistic in its depiction of 13 year-old boys. I finally turned it off to avoid getting so down that I'd drive myself into a tree! I didn't finish it, but will probably never forget how it cast a cloud over Labor Day 2009.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Seemed like a hell of a holiday.

Where does Labor Day rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's probably up there. A bit drawn out sometimes.

What did you like best about this story?

It was entertaining. Talk of could have been toned down a little.

Have you listened to any of Wilson Bethel’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No he's a unique storyteller.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really it took time to get used to it.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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It was....meh.

What did you like best about Labor Day? What did you like least?

The performance was fairly well done -- crisp audio with decent acting. It was a short audiobook, but I didn't find the story all that engaging. It seemed to go very quick with just a couple of historical subplots that wrapped up very quickly and all too neatly. I would've liked to hear much more depth in both the characters and plot.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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don't bother

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would not recommend this book. The narration was nice, but the story was shallow and predictable.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Meh

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

This is a great question because this book sparked absolutely nothing in me. I listened to it all, but couldn't really tell you why I stuck with it.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Similar to movie

enjoyed it . . . very similar to the storyline of the movie . . .

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Well Done

I like to read the books before I watch the movies and this book and narrator did not disappoint.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Heart-Breaking, Bittersweet, and Very, Very Good

Labor Day is a heart-breaking coming-of-age story about love, loss, grief, injustice, betrayal, longing, loneliness, goodness, strength, resiliency, redemption, and fulfillment. Some characters seem, at first, to be less than admirable; they appear weak, mentally unstable, and lacking in good judgement and good character. But as the story unravelled, my opinion changed dramatically: I felt only heart-wrenching sympathy/empathy and admiration for these characters whom I came to view as uncommonly good, strong people. At times, their stories made me incredibly angry and sad (get ready to cry if you are sensitive), but I also found bittersweet happiness and hope in the story. Maynard's narrative is at times poetic and perfect but it is a bit flawed at other times. For example, she writes that a character kept no fresh food or real food of any kind in the house; there were only frozen dinners and cans of soup. Yet, a house-guest was able to make chili, biscuits, pie, and pancakes from scratch without ever leaving the house to go to a grocery store. Other than small narrative inconsistencies like the one just described, Labor Day is a real gem of a story; I'm so thankful that I found it and added it to my library. It was well worth the credit I spent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 08-09-18

Loved this book. Such a great writer!

Great coming of age story under exceptional circumstances. Nice performance too. You could really 'see' all the characters.

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  • miss lj lawley
  • 05-29-16

Love, love, loved it

I saw the film first and loved it so wanted to read the book. The narrators voice was just amazing capturing all the characters and the story was like the film addictive. Will read another book by the author thank you for writing such an enjoyable story.