Labor Day Book Club Kit Discussion Questions

Labor Day  by Joyce Maynard is available as one of the Gold Coast Libraries’ book club kits.


**Please be aware that book discussion questions may contain spoilers**



Labor Day is a novel by American author Joyce Maynard, and her second novel to be adopted into a major motion film (released in 2014). Labor Day follows the story of a 13 year old boy Henry and his emotionally fragile mother Adele, as a now adult Henry looks back at significant events that occurred on a long, hot Labor Day weekend.

Adele, a divorced, onetime dancer, can barely leave the house. Henry and Adele live on a supply of tinned soup, frozen food, and friendless Henry struggles with adolescence with the added burden of trying to uplift his struggling mother.

After a long summer holiday break, Henry finally urges Adele to the local Wallmart for some much needed supplies on the Labor Day weekend. It is there they encounter Frank, an escaped prisoner in need of a place to hide. It is through Henry and Adele’s encounter with Frank, that Henry learns some valuable lessons in life, including the power of jealousy and betrayal, and the meaning of true love.

A refreshing and moving read, Labor Day is written beautifully through the eyes of a 13 year old, and his grown up self, as he reflects on a life altering encounter with a stranger.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What did you think of Adele’s behaviour in the novel? Did you think she was crazy or a bad mother? Why do you think Adele became that way?
  2. What was your initial impression of Frank? Did you think it was out of character of Adele to allow him into their home and why do you think she did?
  3. Discuss Henry’s loyalty to his mother. In what ways does Henry stay loyal to Adele?
  4. Discuss the ongoing theme of transition in the novel. What transitions were the characters Henry, Adele, Frank and Eleanor each going through at the time of the Labor Day weekend?
  5. Why does Eleanor’s character behave as she does? What does she hope to accomplish through her actions?
  6. Discuss the significance of the pie that Frank bakes.
  7. Did you find Frank to be a believable character? Did your impression of Frank change during the course of the novel?
  8. Discuss the ways in which the Labor Day weekend changed the lives of the characters. How did Henry’s life change? What do you think Henry and Adele’s life would have been like if they had never met Frank?


Helpful Links:

Publisher website

Review on Good Reads

Film trailer