Thursday, February 6, 2014

Guest Post - Labor Day

Labor Day
I am incredibly excited to be introducing you all to Jamie! She is my cousin by marriage, but friend by choice. She loves books with the same passion that I do. Besides her literary enthusiasm, she is just a generally awesome person. You're missing out by not having her at your family gatherings - I promise you.

You may have noticed in my January Chapter post on Monday, I mentioned Jamie and her goal for the year. She's tackling Buzzfeed's list of 16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theatres This Year.

Jamie has set up her own blog just for the project. If you want to follow her there, and I highly recommend that you do, you can do so here. I am going to be reading a few of the books along with Jamie. Others, I am going to have her guest post here. That's the case today!

Jamie just finished Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, both the book and the movie. Keep reading to hear her thoughts about each!

The Book:
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard is a short novel that wholeheartedly revolves around the idea of love. It’s told from the perspective of Henry, a young boy, about the events that transpired around a single long, holiday weekend. Ultimately there is a lot of backstory and history that we receive throughout the story but the main focus is on their Labor Day weekend. I learned that is not Maynard’s first foray into writing which is why I was so surprised at the fact that it felt quite like a first novel. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book despite the many grievances that I may have with it, but it felt like a little more polishing would have done wonders.
The biggest issue that I have with the book as whole is the fact that it felt like a woman trying to retell her story from her sons perspective. His thoughts didn’t feel like those of a young prepubescent boy, but rather what an older woman would expect them to be. Maynard had a habit of telling the reader how Henry felt and thought instead of letting Henry show us. It wasn’t until the end that I felt like we actually got to see through Henry’s eyes.  
There were a few editorial issues that I had with the writing as well and the seemingly unnecessary addition of characters that weren’t fully formed but were still pivotal to the story.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. The story made me care about the characters and how their stories progressed. Maynard managed to convince me that these were people worth following, so you should definitely check it out!
The Movie:
Wow! I have to say that Labor Day was one of the best book to movie adaptations I’ve seen in a really long time. Of course, there are details missing, histories omitted, and differences in storytelling but the overall feel of the movie was exactly where it should have been. No movie will ever be 100% as the author wrote it, but this film came incredibly close.
Kate Winslet was the Adele I had imagined, strong but overcome with grief and immense sorrow. Josh Brolin surprised me with his tender yet stoic portrayal of Frank, and Gattlin Griffith was a wonderful Henry. 
I did have a few qualms about the film, my husband who saw it with me (what a champ!) agreed with the biggest one. Franks flashbacks to his previous life were scattered, hard to understand, and just plain confusing. That portion of the film felt like a failed attempt to bring a bit of “indie artsy beauty” to the story and would have been much clearer received had they chosen to retell his history in a cleaner fashion.
Aside from that disappointment, the other changes and flaws were minimal and completely understandable for the jump to the silver screen. 
I am a huge fan of both versions but for the first time I can say that I did in fact like the movie better!
Thanks so much to Jamie for sharing her insights here. I am really looking forward to hearing lots more from her as the year continues!

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