With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, 13-year-old Henry - lonely, friendless, not too good at sports - spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates.
For company, Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele - a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy.
Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart. But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others - especially those we love - above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for.
In a manner evoking Ian McEwan's Atonement and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy - and the man he later becomes - looking back at an unexpected encounter that begins one single, long, hot, life-altering weekend.
©2009 Joyce Maynard; (P)1997 HarperCollins Publishers