Monthly Archives: January 2014

Labor Day Group Book Talk

girls  Here is part of our little book club group.  We met to talk about Joyce Maynard’s new book called Labor Day.   We all wanted to read the book before we  go together and see the movie at the end of this month.  I  always make it a rule of mine to read the book before seeing the movie.  This blog post will be a bit different because I am going to post varying opinions, thoughts and views of the same book.  And let me tell you….we had some different ideas about this book.  It is interesting to note that before we sat down to discuss the book, everyone emailed their own book reviews to me.  This way our thoughts were pure and uninfluenced by the others in the group.

So let’s get down to the good, the bad and the ugly of this book:

labor day   The story is told through the 13 year-old character, Henry.  We get no other perspective, and several of us wanted to get into the head of Frank and Adele ….to understand them in a better sense.  However, the author only wanted us to see the story unfold through Henry’s eyes. We must trust the author even if we don’t always like their methods.

Henry and mother, Adele, live together in a reclusive way.   Henry’s parents divorced years earlier when Adele seemed to slip into a fragile state seeming unaware and afraid of the world around her.  Henry is left to raise himself and take care of his mother….not an easy thing for any child.  Henry does see his father weekly during rather uncomfortable dinners with his dad’s new family.  He keeps things to himself about the state of affairs on the home front.  Henry is quite adept at taking care of himself and his mother.  They have slipped into a comfortable albeit unusual rhythm for mother and son.  The two go out monthly to stock up on non-perishables, and it is on one of these trips that Frank enters their life.   Frank approaches Henry at the store….he is bleeding and begging for Henry to ask his mother to take him home…their home.  He is quite charismatic and creepy in this request.  Adele does not hesitant in granting Frank his request.

Here is the part in the story where the mother in us all got the better of us.  We could not understand how a mother could willingly put her son in danger and welcome this suspicious stranger into their home.  She gives Frank power…power over them all with seemingly no regard for her son.  We did not like that and wanted her to protect Henry if not herself.  She did not.

This is when one of us spoke up and said: “But this is a love story.  Adele values love above all….she is blinded by it, and it [love] makes people do crazy things.”  Good point.  So for the time being , we accept Adele’s poor parenting decision to let this escaped criminal into her home.  Yes, we learn that he has just escaped from prison and is being hunted by the authorities.  Adele willingly gives him a place to hide.  This is where the love story begins and over the span of six days we see the characters slowly develop.  Too slowly for some of us and just right for others.

Yet it is still hard to get past the fact that this emotionally detached woman is so willing to trust this man with all her heart…she even begins to smile and open up in his presence.  They even have sex…GASP!  She is oblivious to Henry….or at least that is the way it reads since we are only exposed to Henry’s thoughts.

The ending was a bit predictable, and yet most of us felt it was the “best” ending.  We are really looking forward to the movie because we feel that the movie will give us insight to the other characters….was Frank really in love with Adele?  Was Adele that self-centered?  Was his father that much of  coward to run away when things got tough?  Henry was a strong, likeable character and I personally loved him.  His honesty, his strength,  and his loyalty.  He was truly unselfish at a time in one’s life when it is not only OK to be selfish, but expected.    We will report back to you after viewing the movie to give yet more of our input.

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Ghost Story

starter house  If you like stories involving houses with a history…a grisly past of multiple murders…then this book could be for you.  A house where the departed cannot  and will not leave, but instead they chose to stay and torment the new owners….preferrably owners with young children and new babies.  The truly bad news…no live baby has been born since 1971 to any owner of this house.

Lacey (it is hard for me to take this name seriously) & Eric are a newly married couple expecting their first baby.  Lacey teaches 4th grade and adores her job, yet her job does not pay a lot.  Her husband came from money, but that is a thing of the past.  He is now a lawyer working long hours to provide for his new family.  So when Lacey falls in love with an old Cape Cod house in need of repair and TLC….Eric agrees since the price tag is so reasonable.  However, the realtor begs them not to buy the house by simply stating: “People died there”.  Lacey will not listen….she loves the house.

On the first day, Lacey meets a young boy named Drew  whom she believes is one of their neighbors.  Drew is wild and dirty….just like many of the boys she teaches in 4th grade.  Yet, there is something unusual about Drew.  Not everyone can see him….he appears in her house….on the stairs and then disappears.  Lacey begins her own investigation into the history of the house.  She discovers that there is a history of repeated and similar murders all to take place in the house.  Lacey is worried for her unborn child, but she is afraid to tell Eric anything.  She is desperate to make things right with the spirits within and remain in the house.

I enjoyed the book, but I truly wanted it to be more spooky.  This could be because I recently finished watching American Horror Story….the first season Murder House.  That was beyond spooky.  It was nightmares every night spooky.  Starter House by Sonja Condit was a good story….but more like Caspar the not-so-friendly ghost.  I also wanted to like Eric a whole lot more.  His character was one-dimensional and quite dull.  I would have enjoyed a little more development with his character….there was more development with the dog Bibbits than the husband.  Still….I would recommend the book for a quick and fast-paced read.

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