Book to Movie Monday: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

labor day movieAbout a month ago I read an interesting article about the upcoming movie Labor Day, with Kate Winslet.  I generally think everything Kate Winslet does is worth seeing, so when I found this book for $1 at my library, it seemed like a find.  I was wrong.

I should have realized from the cover of this book that it wasn’t for me, from the endorsements by Jodi Picoult and People Magazine to the cover photo of two hands clasping over pie (the cover with the heart on the window is even worse).  But I try not to be snobby.  labor day 2

I know nothing about Maynard, it just sounded like an interesting story.  It wasn’t.  A story of a boy’s coming of age?  Yes.  A good character piece for Winslet?  Yes.  It’s also one of the most ridiculously one-dimensional, unrealistic stories I’ve read in a long time.  As in, I repeatedly wanted to bang my head against the nearest wall.labor day

Labor Day tells the story of an escaped murderer who encounters young Henry and his mother Adele in a small town Walmart.  Injured and bleeding, he asks Henry and Adele to come home with them.  And Adele, who has her own problems, says sure.  Because she’s the kind of woman who would help a guy like him.  A big, scary-looking guy who’s on the run from police.  Sure, why not bring that guy home with your kid?

Adele is a recluse who’s afraid of the outside world, a hoarder who fantasizes about her days as a dancer. She’s kind to those who are outcasts but can’t relate to the rest of the world.  As a character she had my interest — I’m always sympathetic to the socially dysfunctional.  I also sympathized with the kid, who loves his crazy mother and hates the father that left her and created a new and better family.

Beyond that, this book was just silly.  Henry and Adele decide pretty quickly they want to keep him — and who wouldn’t?  The guy MAKES PIE.  Then they do an awful lot of stupid things like running errands and playing ball outside, even though the police have his picture plastered all over town.

Being tied up is sexy if you’re reading Shades of Grey, but bringing an escaped, bleeding convict to your house is definitely not sexy. Oh, except he also fixes things, cooks dinner, ballroom dances, and teaches Henry to play baseball (like a good father would).  I get the message, that people aren’t always what they appear, and that sometimes “the outside world” is worse than the world you create for yourselves.  But still.

I’ve said before I don’t do “heartwarming”, and this book has heartwarming written all over it.  I suppose I should have known that from the beginning.  I expected layers and what I got was pie-baking as metaphor for life.  Sorry Kate, I’ll be passing on this one.

  5 comments for “Book to Movie Monday: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

  1. January 13, 2014 at 11:32 am

    This sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie. I agree with your point that the message is about people can change and aren’t always what they appear but this all just sounds so happy and a little strange. I agree that it’s weird that a woman would continue to let a man running from the police near her child. I like to say that I don’t really read “happy, heartwarming” books and that is exactly what this sounds like.

  2. January 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Whoa. I haven’t read too many reviews of this but was hooked by the mention of pie elsewhere. Now I’m just curious!

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