Thursday, July 17, 2014

Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard

Rating: 0.5/5
244 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Library book

Description: As the end of summer approaches and a long, hot Labor Day weekend looms, the life of lonely thirteen-year-old Henry Wheeler is irrevocably changed when he and his emotionally fragile mother show kindness to a stranger with a terrible secret. (from the back cover)

Review: I will start by saying that I am clearly not the intended audience for this book. I'm not entirely sure who is the intended audience actually is, but they presumably aren't as bothered by gaping plot holes and characters who don't act in a way that seems logical.

I just can't believe that a thirteen-year-old boy, who clearly cares deeply about his mother and her well being, is going accept the confessed murderer and prison escapee in their life quite so easily. I don't buy that he wouldn't even be tempted to ask questions about the murder, or look at the newspaper, or that the tv news, that they watch several times, never mentions what he did.

I also can't believe that none of these characters thought that, just maybe, a hot Labor Day weekend is not the best time to go on a road trip to the beach with the escaped criminal who is being featured prominently in the news and there are possibly still road blocks up for. They also stop at at least one restaurant on the way. And they let the thirteen-year-old drive. With the escaped con sitting in the front seat next to him.

I didn't quite stop reading at that point, but it was a close thing.

I basically stopped after the revelation about the crime that put him in jail came up. It turned out to be a standard manipulative woman, who tricked him into thinking he was the father of her baby, then cheated on him, so in a fit of rage he killed her. Frankly, that was exactly what I was expecting as soon as he uttered the phrase "It didn't happen the way they're going to say it did."

The only surprise was the revelation that they'd decided to add an additional charge for a related tragedy, because... Okay, I guess you get over-zealous prosecutors in reality, but fiction has to make sense, and this charge didn't. Nor did it add anything to the story. The cookie cutter tragic back story was already quite tragic enough without it.

Then there's issue with the quotation marks. For whatever reason, these do not appear around most of the dialog. They occasionally pop up around phrases, and one or two pieces of random dialog, but for the majority of the book is just a mess of dialog blending into the rest of the text making it very hard to read.

I didn't buy the characters, I didn't buy the situation, and, fortunately, I didn't buy the book.

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