Faith in Books: Labor Day


Labor Day

By Joyce Maynard

I have just finished reading the first of fourteen books that are being released as movies in 2014. I joined a local facebook group who plan on reading then going to see each movie, following it with a discussion. I liked the idea because it gets me out of my “rut” of reading the same types or genres of books. And seeing the movie right after reading the book is always good for some lively debate.

Labor Day is the first book for the year. I finished the book just minutes ago. Labor Day is about a thirteen year old boy and his divorced mother who seems to be suffering from depression and agoraphobia. Henry is trying to make his mother happy but does not have the ability. When a bleeding stranger asks for a ride from the department store, neither Henry or his mother seems to think this is strange. Later they discover he is an escaped convict and their lives begin to change.

Maynard writes about sex, fear of abandonment, relationships, growing up and love — all from the perspective of a boy on the cusp of adolescence. Henry does some maturing during the long Labor Day weekend but we really see his growth in the final two chapters of the book.  I would not consider this book to be what you would want to read to find your happy place but I don’t see it as an outright depressing book.

Part of Maynard’s style is not to use quotations. The dialogue is sometimes Henry’s internal one but at other times it is being voiced aloud. Occasionally I did have to go back and “hear” the dialogue in my head to figure out what was actually being spoken. This may be bothersome for a few readers. It makes me wonder how this will be handled in the movie.

What did this book have to do with my faith? It was interesting that God, prayer and going to church were mentioned but just as asides. It seemed like Maynard wanted to give God or religion a nod as she wrote. Possibly she felt like someone would expect God to be mentioned in a movie about growing up, step-families and escaped convicts. Made me wonder how often most people simply give God a nod on occasion. They tell people they’ll pray for them when they themselves haven’t spoken a word to God in years. They agree that they are a Christian yet have not gone to church or read the bible. Perhaps it is the thing to do in America. Also makes me wonder how often Christians give lip service to God as well.

I recommend Labor Day.

Happy reading and movie viewing!


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