Celebrating the Hardest Working Literary Characters On Labor Day

Posted by Jamie Canaves

This Labor Day, as we prepare the BBQ and plan a day of celebration with family/friends—or snuggling with our books—Quirk Books is also celebrating hard working literary characters. *Flexes book carrying muscles*

Flora in The Bees by Laline Paull

Flora earns her labor award as a sanitation bee meant to clean the hive. And she earns a second award for serving/obeying the Queen and then a THIRD award when the hive is under attack and Flora goes all Thunderdome on intruders. 



All of the contestants in Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Okay, so you might think pageant contestants and labor work don’t even belong in the same sentence BUT after their plane crashes on a deserted island (or is it?!…) these ladies prove they are more than capable of laborious work to survive. Comically doing it earns them bonus points.


The dancers in Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

While this novel is about much more than just the world of ballet it’s Labor Day so we’ll focus on the ridiculously grueling dedication and practice it takes to be a dancer and hand out awards to them all. Equal sizes of course, we don’t want any fighting ballerinas. On second thought—DANCE OFF!


Alan Cumming in Not My Father’s Son

Cumming’s spent his childhood not only terrorized by his father but also forced from a young age to work in the nursery, forest, and sawmill run by his father. And by working we mean manual labor difficult enough for adults, let alone a child to be doing. His award comes with a hug, and even though this technically happened in Scotland the judges are allowing us to count it.



The many characters in The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Not only is moving to an unknown country arduous but the job options will also most likely be difficult: from picking mushrooms to working your way up from busboy to line cook. The dream of a better life for their family means they’re willing to work even harder to succeed and while the book gives you many character’s first person point of view, at the heart is the story of Maribel and Mayor whose parents have sacrificed everything to give them the best opportunities possible.


Mai’s Dad in Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Rather than spending her summer at Laguna Beach, as intended, Mai will be traveling to Vietnam with her grandmother and her father who will be working as a volunteer doctor. According to Mai her dad will be on “the most remote mountain” and is a “one-man surgical clinic.” Sounds like hard, and important, work to us.