Tag Archives: Fiction

Review & Book Tour: Labor Day

Labor Day Book Cover

Labor Day
By Joyce Maynard
Harper Perennial
August 2010
272 pp

The Short of It:

This is a story about love, loss and the struggle to find yourself. It’s proof that in this great big world, it is possible to find happiness and a place to call home.

The Rest of It:

Henry is thirteen-years-old and a bit of a recluse. As the other boys in the neighborhood spend their time outside, Henry spends his time indoors, watching TV and taking care of his divorced mother, Adele. Their meals consist of canned soup and quiet conversation. This is a typical day for them. However, during one, long, hot Labor Day weekend, they head to the local Pricemart to pick up a few items. This, in itself, is rare as Adele does not enjoy being outside anymore. She’d rather stay in the comfort of her home but on this particular morning, she decides to enter the store with Henry.

While she is shopping, Henry is confronted by a man named Frank. The man, obviously injured, is in pain and simply asks if Henry and his mom can help him. Although Adele has her issues, she has been known to help those in need in the past, so Henry takes Frank to his mom, and their lives change forever.

Frank has a story of course. A sketchy past involving a mistake he made when he was younger, but through Frank’s actions, Adele sees a man who is solid and true. A man who cares deeply for those close to him, and when he manages to bring happiness into their home, happiness that hasn’t existed for years, Henry becomes fond of him too.

Labor Day is a wonderful read. The characters are forced to look within themselves and the interactions between them are so beautifully orchestrated. I say orchestrated because their interactions are seamless and subtle but speak volumes as far as what’s going on within these people. It takes an author’s delicate hand to push that envelope. Pushing it too much creates a “staged” feel and not pushing it enough creates hollow characters without substance.

Labor Day is my favorite type of book. It’s the kind of book that you read, experience and then once done, think about  for days on end. I highly recommend it.

Joyce Maynard

To visit Joyce Maynard’s website, click here.

To view Maynard’s other TLC tour stops, click here.

Joyce Maynard will be on Blog Talk Radio with Book Club Girl on August 30th at 4pm (Pacific). For details, click here.

Source: A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour and to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of the book.

Thrity Thursday! AKA “The Space Between Us” Read-Along – Week 5 (Final)

The Space Between Us

Welcome to Thrity Thursday, also known as “The Space Between Us” read-along. We’ll be reading the book over the next few weeks. Thanks to Lisa for putting it together and thanks to these other bloggers for joining in on the fun!

Dar at Peeking Between The Pages
Staci at Life In The Thumb
Kathy at Mommy’s Reading
Booksync at Book In The City
Bailey at The Window Seat Reader
Mari at Bookworm With A View

Chapters 21-25 (Final)

My Synopsis:

My hope is that after this read-along, some of you will get a copy of this book and read it on your own. Since that is my wish, my synopsis isn’t a play-by-play account of what I’ve read, but just a high-level overview of what took place. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. With that said…

In this week’s reading, the father of Maya’s unborn baby is revealed. Bhima’s knowledge of this causes her to question everything around her and presents a whole new set of problems for the woman to endure. As Dinaz’s pregnancy progresses, Maya is left to bitterly mourn her own baby’s fate. As shocked as Bhima is by Maya’s behavior, she can relate to how difficult it will be for Maya once Dinaz has her baby.

In the end, which I will not give away… Umrigar brings things to a close in a satisfying, yet realistic way.

My Thoughts:

As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I found it to be a bit soap opera-ish. This happens, then that happens, then there is a shocking revelation…cue music. It’s very dramatic at times. Part of that I think is due to the fact that it’s set in another country. The use of language is different so the emphasis is different with some words, which to me, makes it sound more dramatic.

For whatever reason, the middle class tends to rhyme their words when speaking in this novel. I can’t remember word for word what was said, but “friends schlends” for example. As they tsk tsk over something…they lapse into rhyming their words. This seemed odd to me. Was this an attempt at being cute? To perhaps lend some lightness to the conversation? I’m not sure, but it happened at least three times (that I can recall) and it made me wonder if they really talk like that in India.

As for the story itself, I liked the way Umrigar balanced what is essentially two parallel stories and brought them together. Her descriptive passages leave nothing to the imagination. Every sight and sound and sometimes even smell is accounted for. The scenes at Chowpatty Beach are so vivid, albeit brief.  I was completely wrapped up in that world while reading the book.

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai
Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai

As this is now my second Umrigar book, I have to say that she has a very distinct way of writing and an unfailing sense of who her characters are. I think I enjoyed The Space Between Us a bit more than The Weight of Heaven. It seemed a bit more authentic to me, even with the dramatic undertones. Both would make excellent book club picks.

Source: Purchased.

Previous Weeks:

Week 1 & Week 2
Week 3
Week 4