Labor Day: Book Review

Labor Day book coverLabor Day by Joyce Maynard

Publisher/Year: William Morrow/2009

Rating: ♥ ½

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Kate Winslet (Titanic)
Josh Brolin (True Grit, No Country for Old Men)
Tobey Maguire (the Spider-Man before Andrew Garfield)
J. K. Simmons (the dad in Juno and Tobey Maguire’s boss in Spider-Man)

When can I watch it?
Right now! It just came out on January 31, so you can go see it while it’s still in theaters. (Not that you should)

What’s it about?
Labor Day is about a shut-in, divorced mom and her son who welcome a complete stranger into their home for no apparent reason. The story is told from Henry’s 13-year-old point of view. Henry convinces his mom, Adele, to take him to the store which apparently is a huge deal because Adele never leaves the house, like ever. Even when Adele and Henry venture out into the world, she waits in the car and makes Henry go in the bank, grocery store, etc. But school is about to start and Henry needs pants that fit him, so Adele dusts the cobwebs off herself and heads on over to PriceMart. There, Henry meets a man who is bleeding from his head and leg who asks for ride. Where? Henry’s house. The best part? His agoraphobic mother is totally down, even when they find out he’s a convicted murderer on the run. Great.

What did you think?
It’s pretty bad. I read constantly and I understand that books are not real and you have to suspend your disbelief, but there’s a limit. When a book is set in the real world, it should be at least remotely realistic. I could not believe the characters’ motivation or actions throughout most of the story which is a huge problem.

Soon as I stopped believing the characters (pretty much from the start), I stopped feeling anything for them. It’s hard to bring myself to feel happy or sad for a character that I cannot imagine as real. Whenever anything bad happened it didn’t feel natural, it was too perfectly setup; there too many precise scenarios and little details that made it unbelievable. Some pretty awful things happened and I couldn’t find myself to feel any empathy for them. By the time these hardships were revealed I had already lost all my zest for the story and could only think: “Of course that happened. Why wouldn’t that have happened?”

I do not understand how Kate Winslet got to be a part of this movie. KATE WINSLET. The respected, beautiful and talented Kate Winslet gets to be involved in this disaster of a story. I want to know who read this book and thought: “Hey, I should make this into a movie and you know who would be great as the uninteresting and unrelatable female lead? Academy Award winner Kate Winslet.”

The only redeeming quality was that despite my distaste for the plot and characters, I retained a slight curiosity about how everything was going to wrap up. I wanted to find out if he went back to prison or if he would live happily ever after with Adele and Henry. It was a short book and an easy read so I gritted my teeth and stuck it through til the end.

Should I read it?
Only if you like completely unrelatable characters and totally improbable scenarios. If that’s your style, you can get a copy here.

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