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Dry Grass of August, The by Anna Jean Mayhew
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Dry Grass of August, The (edition 2011)

by Anna Jean Mayhew

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3892627,583 (3.76)9
Member:Gilmore53
Title:Dry Grass of August, The
Authors:Anna Jean Mayhew
Info:Kensington Publishing (2011), Upplaga: 1, Paperback, 352 sidor
Collections:Wishlist
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The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

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Review first appeared on fefferbooks.com.

I’m going through and trying to add reviews for the books I read a couple of years ago (the ones I can remember, at least), and I am SHOCKED to discover I haven’t reviewed The Dry Grass of August yet. I loved this book so much that I can’t simply post a review and then have it sit quietly back in the annals of the blog. I want you guys to know about this book, if you don’t already.

If I haven’t already said it: I LOVE debut novels. I think there’s something about an author’s first public shout-out to the world that is just so electric and amazing. The Dry Grass of August is absolutely no exception. It’s a rich, atmospheric, sometimes hand-wringing tale of a girl on the cusp of adolescence and the black maid who is, for all intents and purposes, her mother. It takes place in the deep south in 1954, and I’m sure you can grasp the implications. This book is powerful and memorable, and the writing is fantastic. It’s just a touch slow to begin, and it is a thoughtful sort of novel–more emotion and psychology than actionactionaction. I enjoy that, though, and I really appreciated it.

4 stars, and I don’t recall or have it marked as having any swearing (feel free to let me know if you find any–I borrowed this book). There are some upsetting scenes re: the racial climate. IMO, it’d be a fabulous book club pick. ( )
  fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
Great book for fans of The Help and The Kitchen House. ( )
  susan.h.schofield | Oct 7, 2013 |
This story is about a young girl coming of age in the 1950,s in the south. June loves her black maid, maryand experiences first hand the devastating effects of racial predjudice. ( )
  teeth | Aug 20, 2013 |
This moving story immerses the reader into the world of a young woman coming of age in the South, a young woman who loves their black maid Mary Luther but who experiences first-hand the devastating effects of racial prejudice.
At thirteen Jubie's family is doing their best to teach her how to be a proper Southern lady. Her dad is a successful businessman and her mother has her hands full with four children. Thankfully, they have the help of their maid, Mary. She even comes with them on a vacation--although this is a problem because not many motels in the South will allow her to stay with the family since she is black. Jubie is just old enough to begin to realize that not everyone loves Mary like she does, just because of the color of her skin. She also begins to pick up on the tension that exists between her parents as she begins to get wind of secrets that threaten to tear her family apart. Despite her growing awareness of the prejudice around her, she and her sister Stell choose to visit, with Mary, gatherings of the black church community--and this choice leads a tragedy that will change Jubie's life forever.
I kept comparing this book to The Help as I was reading it, as it also explores the dynamics that existed between "the help" and the white families that employed them. Both books are set against the ominous backdrop of a society that will turn on it's members with violence if they get out of line. In The Help the violence was kept much more in the background than in this book, and as a result I felt like this book took me on much more of a thought provoking and emotional ride. Mayhew's characters are also extremely memorable, I found myself pondering them and wondering what was going to become of them and their family even when I was away from the book. I highly recommend this, especially to readers who enjoyed The Help. It would also be an excellent book for a book discussion group to tackle--I'm sure discussing these characters and the issues explored in this book (while sipping some Southern style sweet tea) would make for a lively meeting. ( )
  debs4jc | Jun 19, 2013 |
The Dry Grass of August is the June selection of my book club. And once again, a selection has me pondering the reason for a book club. Other than spending a pleasant evening with friends, I guess the reason is to force me to read books that I otherwise would not. For my personal reading I gravitate to certain genres and authors, but book club forces me out of my comfort zone. And that's a good thing, right?

Well-maybe not in this case. The Dry Grass of August is another book in the genre I like to call "depressing stories of ignorance and racism in the south in the 20th century".

This novel centers on teenager Jubie Watts, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1954. Jubie, her mother, siblings, and Mary, the family's maid, leave for vacation to visit Jubie's uncle in Pensacola, Florida. The action is interspersed with flashbacks to Jubie's early childhood and very recent past. Jubie's father, Bill, is a violent drunk, and Jubie, inexplicably, is the target of his rage. Her mother, Pauly, is benignly neglectful of her four children, leaving the work of child rearing to the family's "colored" maid. Mary is the one caring and stable adult presence in Jubie's life.

The violence that is simmering below the surface erupts in a predictable way. This of course forces Jubie to grow up and rebel against her parents. Yawn!

This book has, in my opinion, nothing to add to the genre of the southern novel. The themes are stale; the characters I've met before. There remain three novels of the south worth reading: Gone With the Wind, The Sound and the Fury, and To Kill a Mockingbird. All the others are riffs on the same theme. ( )
  LaBibliophille | Jun 14, 2013 |
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Epigraph
In the midnight hour
When you need some power
When your heart is heavy
Steal away, steal away home
I ain't got long to stay here.

-African-American spiritual
Dedication
for Jean-Michel and for Laurel
First words
In August of 1954, we took our first trip without Daddy, and Stell got use to the driver's license she'd had such a fit about.
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In 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts' eyes are opened to the harsh realities of racism when tragedy strikes her family while on vacation in Florida.
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In 1954, 13-year-old Jubie, traveling with her family and her family's black maid Mary Luther--who has always been there for her, making up for her father's rages and her mother's neglect--encounters racial tension and tragedy.

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