JOYCE MAYNARD’s Labor Day is narrated by Henry, a 13-year old kid who lives with his depressed mother in a semi-secluded part of an American suburb. They go to a grocery store one scorching summer day, then go back home with Frank, a recently-escaped convicted murderer.
We have to suspend our disbelief. Sure, this kid and his mom, Adele, will bring a complete stranger back to their house. Of course they won’t panic the moment Frank’s “WANTED” face appears on TV and the newspapers. Frank tells them his story: he accidentally killed his cheating wife. His baby—who apparently was not biologically his—accidentally drowned because Frank’s senile mother died while giving the poor infant a bath. Frank, therefore, is not a bad person.
Over the course of six days, Frank and Adele fall in love. Adele seems to have recovered from her depression. Frank becomes Henry’s “father figure,” teaching him how to play baseball and how to bake. They plan to leave for Canada, change their identities and finally live a peaceful life like a legit family.
Then stuff happens blah blah blah. The story drags us to the end like some boring teleserye with terrible actors—we want it to be over yet we endure it so we don’t miss the show that comes right after. It feels like your typical Kapuso drama—not terribly bad but not as moving as an effectively evocative Maalala Mo Kaya episode.
This may also make for a good siesta read—something to peruse when we badly want to sleep during the kroo-kroo moments after lunch, before merienda (assuming that we have the luxury to do this siesta thing we so hated when we were kids). And if there’s a such genre as “housewife reading,” this book fits right in (no offense to housewives, of course).
In case you’re interested, a movie adaptation was also released just last year starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Save your time; just go watch the movie.
The featured image is from Goodreads.