Thursday, August 6, 2009




I am honored to have my first GUEST REVIEW
from well known reviewer, Harvey Freedenberg.
I thank him for his kindness and fabulous review!


with permission from

The small town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, in 1987 is the setting for Joyce Maynard’s gentle and quietly moving coming-of-age novel. In it, she tells the affecting tale of three damaged people who come together to form an unlikely family.

Hours after an appendectomy, convict Frank Chambers leaps from the second floor of a prison hospital and makes his escape. In front of the magazine rack at the local Pricemart, the bleeding man encounters 13-year-old Henry Johnson, the story’s narrator. Improbably, Henry’s mother Adele agrees to take Frank home, a decision that launches the three of them into a complex relationship that will change their lives irrevocably.

Adele is one of those people so battered by life that her response to its cruel blows is to retreat into an almost monastic existence. Her ex-husband has started a new family with whom Henry shares Saturday night dinner at the local Friendly’s restaurant, an occasion that serves mostly to give him the chance to compare himself unfavorably with his stepbrother, who’s the same age. Adele, an accomplished dancer, fitfully sells vitamins over the phone (giving them away to customers who can’t afford them), listens to Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Leonard Cohen, and fitfully tries to learn Spanish and play the cello. She shares Cap’n Andy frozen fish dinners with Henry while discoursing on an array of firmly held opinions, from the proper way a man should hold his partner in ballroom dancing to her view that microwave ovens cause cancer and sterility.

Maynard’s empathy for this quirky woman is evident, but she’s content to win us to that view at a measured pace, as we gradually learn, through Henry’s eyes, the roots of Adele’s sorrow and the reasons why, as he sadly concludes, she “seemed to have taken herself out of the game,” how her “goal was to be invisible, or as close as she could get.”

The third member of this odd trio isn’t an ordinary escaped prisoner, he’s a convicted murderer. But midway through the novel, when Frank shares the story of his crime, it’s impossible not to feel an insistent tug of sympathy. Patiently, he works to win Henry’s trust, engaging him in a game of catch, offering bits of fatherly wisdom as he performs odd jobs around the house, and, in a scene that’s somewhere between mouthwatering and erotic, sharing the secret to baking a perfect peach pie. There’s an almost idyllic quality to this portrait, in which, Henry recalls, “for the moment, time was suspended, and not even atmosphere existed.” Maynard has an unerring eye for the intricate dance of family life, and these moments of simple domesticity are painted with accuracy and feeling.

But the relationship between Adele and Frank soon takes on a darker cast in Henry’s mind. The adults end up sharing Adele’s bed, and Henry, who’s experiencing the first flush of his own sexuality, hears their nightly couplings through the wall of his bedroom. They begin to speak of leaving New Hampshire and starting a new life in Prince Edward Island, and Henry fears he’s about to be left behind. He struggles with the notion that the only way to prevent her departure is to reveal Frank’s presence to the police and destroy “the first true piece of good luck in any of our lives in a long time,” and his resolution of the conflict brings the story to a taut climax.

What ultimately makes LABOR DAY such a delight is Maynard’s pitch perfect rendition of the voice of her narrator. Henry’s tangled feelings of love for his mother and anguish at his inability to assuage her pain mingled with his sexual awakening and the awkwardness of a boy poised on the brink of manhood are rendered with tenderness and keen insight. The novel’s resolution feels inevitable, but not predictable, and the coda describing Henry’s life after that Labor Day weekend enriches all that has preceded it. Henry, himself now a husband and father, grants emotional absolution to the adults who shaped his life and in doing so gives them a gift each has earned.

LABOR DAY is a wise, heartfelt novel that illuminates with subtlety and grace quiet truths about the sometimes fractured beauty of family life and the mysteries of the human heart.



Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR. Her writing has also been published in national magazines, including O, The Oprah Magazine; Newsweek; The New York Times Magazine; Forbes; Salon; San Francisco Magazine, USA Weekly; and many more. She has appeared on "Good Morning America", "The Today Show", CNN, "Hardball with Chris Matthews", "Charlie Rose", and on "Fresh Air". Essays of hers appear in numerous collections. She has been a fellow at Yaddo, UCross, and The MacDowell Colony, where she wrote her most recently published novel, LABOR DAY. The author of nine books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel TO DIE FOR (in which she also plays the role of Nicole Kidman’s attorney) and the bestselling memoir, AT HOME IN THE WORLD, Maynard makes her home in Mill Valley, California. Her novel, THE USUAL RULES --- a story about surviving loss --- has been a favorite of book club audiences of all ages, and was chosen by the American Library Association as one of the ten best books for young readers for 2003.

















Sheila (bookjourney) said...

I think this sounds like a wonderful book and the guest interviewer was really good. I really enjoyed his wording.... this line here:

Adele is one of those people so battered by life that her response to its cruel blows is to retreat into an almost monastic existence

That was like wow..... Thanks for having yet another wonderful giveaway!

Sandra said...

I really enjoyed hearing his thoughts on this book. Expressions such as "quiet truths" and "fractured beauty" speak volumes about the story and make me want to read it. I'd love to be entered please. Thank you.

Mary said...

I loved the guest review, Karen! I've read a few reviews for this book and this is another good one. I liked the male perspective, especially his words about the young narrator. I really want to read this book because of all the fantastic reviews - this one included.

meah56 at gmail dot com

holdenj said...

Sounds like another great book by Maynard. I really enjoyed Harvey's review--I think he touched on some great points in the story, without giving too much away. It certainly made me want to read it!

Thanks for another great giveaway!

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com

Serena said...

I really enjoyed reading the guest reviewer's take on Labor Day because he provides a different tone than I'm used to on your blog.

Great review.

ccqdesigns said...

Very good professional review. He covered the entire book it seems. Only question I still have is, did he really like the book? That is the question I am always left with when I read this type of review.

Great giveaway, hope the book is great too.

traveler said...

Thanks for featuring this unique and amazing book. I am captivated with the characters and the plot. What a great interview. It captivated me with his perspective and feelings.

Janel said...

This was a really nice review. I got a nice impression of what the book is like without too much being "given away". Please enter me, because this sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks!

wheresmyrain said...

sounds like a good book.
and i think the addition of the guest post was lovely. It is always interesting to get varied viewpoints on an experience of a book. thank you
wheresmyrain at yahoo dot com

Debbie said...

I always enjoy a book review and this one was great!

Jo-Jo said...

I enjoyed his review, and I agree that it was interesting to hear a male perspective for this book.

Please enter me.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Debbie F said...

Please enter me! I thought this review was great! Harvey really knows how to write and paint a picture that makes me what to know more. Thanks!
dcf_beth at verizon dot net.
I'm a old follower. - google reader!

Kristen said...

Harvey made this very appealing, especially since I have been wavering about whether or not I wanted to read it.

As a result of this review, please enter me!

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

throuthehaze said...

The Guest review was great!
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Sue said...

I thought it was a great review. And it takes the pressure off of you a bit... So well done!

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Beth said...

What a fun feature! The guest review was definitely different!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Karin said...

Enjoyed the guest review--well done!

karin56381 (at)

Elle said...

Guest review was well written - gives me a good idea of what I am getting into.

lafilledreaming at gmail dot com

Michelle M. said...

This sounds like a great book.

The guest reviewer was also a good one. He's very eloquent and really does write a good review. He tells enough about the story to make me want to read it.

I'd love to be entered in this contest.

Amy said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Harvey Freedenberg's review of Joyce Maynard's novel, "Labor Day". It is well-written and concise but comprehensive. He told just enough to grab my attention and whet my appetite for an interesting, enjoyable and engaging read.
It was also nice to read a man's opinion on a female author's novel. Thank you for hosting this guest reviewer!


Vicki said...

Very good review. It really lets you know what the book is about so you have a better idea if you'd like it or not, but doesn't give to much away!

lelou2 AT yamil Dot com

DarcyO said...

Freedenberg's guest review was terrific. I enjoyed his perspective. Keep up the great work!

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

Kim said...

I enjoyed reading his thoughts on the book--so much that now I want to read the book! ;)
Thanks for the great giveaway, once again.

nfmgirl said...

What a great idea-- a guest reviewer! And a great review that he did! This book sounds great. His review revealed that this book is much deeper than I had first thought. Please count me in. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Alyce said...

Great guest review! He totally made me want to read this book! He did a nice job of combining the description of the book and his opinion of it.

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

Alyce said...

I don't know if my comment went through or not, so I apologize if this is a duplicate.

I really liked this guest review, and thought that his opinion was very clearly expressed. He really made me want to read the book.

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

Commchick said...

Your guest reviewer did a wonderful job. It made me really want to read this book. Please add me to your long list of entries.


Valorie said...

I love guest posts because it really makes me feel like I am getting to know the author. Good one here. :)


Rue said...

I think the review was well done and very informative. I'm interested in reading this book. Thanks for the chance to win!
ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

Searcher said...

What a great idea! I read reviews at the all the time and Harvey's review was very detailed and thoughtful. Plus it is great to hear a male view.

Please enter me to win.

Thanks, LooseEnds AT Snet DOT Net

Anonymous said...

I thought it was an absolutely lovely review, and it made me want to read this book even more.


Cindy said...

Bingo, you did an excellent job of picking Harvey as a guest reviewer.

It was nice to read a review from a male perspective for a change.

This book sounds interesting and so like real life. I liked the way that Harvey put it saying, "Maynard has an unerring eye for the intricate dance of family life, and these moments of simple domesticity are painted with accuracy and feeling."

The author sounds very talented and I would love to read this book of hers!

Thank you!


Mermaid2x said...

Thank you Harvey! What an excellently written review. I love it when I am given such good information about a book without any spoilers. Harvey has a way with words! Thank you so much!!

rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

LoveMyCoffee said...

I've had my eye on this book for awhile now. I loved reading a review from a man's point of view, very refreshing. I paused when he used "fractured beauty" in his review, how beautiful and descriptive. I wish I could write like that.
Thanks for another great review and giveaway. I'm blown away at how many giveaways you've got going on. Wow!

cherio1 said...

The guest reviewer was great. This story sounds so good. Please enter me. Thank you.

Beth said...

I thought the guest interviewer did a very good job. This would be a book I'd like to have.

amanda said...

I was impressed by the guest interviewer, and love the excitement you convey with your new experience of letting someone guest interview :)
oheeyore at hotmail dot com

Kat Bryan said...

I enjoyed the review and it made me interested in the book, but it does sound more like the blurb on a cover instead of the reviewer's personal thoughts.

Debs Desk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I think the guest post was wonderful...I would love to read this book.

karen k

coffeeeeeeeee said...

Thanks for this great offer.


I'm a follower.

heatherzilla said...

Great review! After reading the review, I feel like I have to find out hat happens to these people. Labor Day is now on my wish list. Of sourse, I would love to win a copy. ;-)

Beth said...

Great guest review. He was clear and concise and made me want to read the book. Please enter me.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Debb said...

Your guest reviewer was great... great review Harvey... please enter me for this book... it sounds like I would really enjoy it very much... thanks

Allison said...

I always love reading author interviews, it gets me excited about the book! Thanks!

allygotts567 at hotmail dot com

Misty Wright said...

I'd read about this book somewhere, my mind is leaving me right now. I want to say in bookpage or something like that. Anyway, the review was GREAT!! I loved the plot of the story from the other place I read it as well. Now, I really want it. :)

Debs Desk said...

I think the book sounds great and I really enjoyed guest review. So for me it was a hit.

Buukluvr81 said...

Very good guest interviewer! The book sounds wonderful and would love to be entered in the contest! Thanks!

Buukluvr81 said...

Very good guest interviewer! The book sounds wonderful and would love to be entered in the contest! Thanks!

Nancye said...

I think you did a great job writing this review. Very well written. I like the way you gave the reader just enough information to grab their attention to want to read this book, but didn't give anything away. Keep up the great work!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net