The Dry Grass of August
by Anna Jean Mayhew
Paperback- $8.62

In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation, what it will ...

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  "The Dry Grass of August" by Myung (see profile) 06/28/11

Enjoyed reading it. I recommended it my friend.

  "The Dry Grass of August" by DonnaWall (see profile) 12/07/11

  "The Dry Grass of august" by nancan (see profile) 04/10/12

It was a real page-turner!! Opened a lot of discussion in our club because there were so many issues in the book. I highly recommend this book.

  "The Dry Grass of August" by donnaeve (see profile) 04/19/12

I liked this book - it held my attention and is the sort of story I like. One thing I noticed, there are several references to Jubie's father beating her, but this is never really explained or dealt with in any particular way. It's just hinted at, and left at that. I checked confusing too, because of one character's name in the beginning, where the author jumps from using Stell to Stell Ann, with no explanation. At first I thought they were two different people - one named after the other. Eventually, as I kept going, I figured out it was still just the one person - Jubie's older sister, who was referred to as Stell or Stell Ann. Lastly, the book is titled "THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST" but I didn't see why. Usually there is a key sentence or something to rationalize where the title came from. I don't think I ran across any reason in the book for the title. I think it would have been meant more, if the maid, Mary, for instance, said, "The dry grass of August reveals the struggle of the season..." or something like that, something to explain why it was called this. Maybe I missed it. This may seem picky, but these things stood out to me.

  "No one in our group regretted reading this book" by fastreader (see profile) 06/20/12

Beautifully written, believable characters, a plot that builds suspense, and a heart-wrenching story. As well as a very believable 13-yr old protagonist. One can't ask for more.

"The Dry Grass of August" isn't laced with the humor found in "The Help"; however, I feel this book is equally powerful in conveying the 1950's culture and attitude about segregation in the South.

  "Decent Debut" by FTessa (see profile) 08/14/12

Mayhew’s debut novel is a story of racism in the 1950’s South, a coming-of-age novel, and a look at a family falling apart. There are some emotionally gut-wrenching scenes in the book, but I think Mayhew was trying to include too much and the plot got away from her. The family drama would have been plenty to handle in a novel. The growing racial tensions in this time period would also have fueled a full novel. In trying to incorporate both these significant plots, Mayhew failed to do justice to either one. There are moments of very good writing and I was interested and engaged in the novel. Karen White does a very good job on the audio book.

  "The Dry Grass of August" by critzyj (see profile) 09/13/12

  "SAD" by FriendshipSisters (see profile) 07/31/13

The first half of this book is very slow and it is very depressing but I can only imagine how depressing for the people of color during that time. The injustice is horrific. I loved Mary and her relationship with Jubie. Sometime after reading this book, I began to realize that the Trajon Martin case was a modern day event much like the one in this story. I\'m looking forward to discussing that angle when reviewing this book at book club.

  "A timely coming of age story!" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 05/01/15

The story begins in 1954. The Watts are a fairly comfortable and well respected family living in Charlotte, North Carolina. William Watts stays behind as his wife, Paula, his children Jubie, Stell, Puddin, Davey and the maid, Mary, leave in their Packard and drive off for a vacation at the home of Paula’s brother. As they travel south, 14 year old Jubie (June Watts), becomes more and more aware that the maid, Mary Luther, is not welcome in many places, and actually, although they professed to have separate but equal facilities for whites and blacks, that was definitely far from the truth.
However, the trip to the shore goes fairly smoothly. They have a pleasant stay and for diverse reasons, are all sad when it is time to leave. On their return, an automobile accident delays them; from that point on, succeeding events alter the way they live their lives. Racism is an accepted mode of behavior in many places in the south, in those days, and the family is forced to confront it. Each of them deals with the bigotry and its effects in their own way. Often, in those times, and in many places, law enforcement looked askance at the white perpetrators of crimes and ignored the victims when the victims were non-white. The wheels of justice ground very slowly in those instances and remnants of that kind of injustice still exist today in many cities around the United States.
The racism exhibited in this story is a bit horrifying, but, nevertheless, it is a pretty fair and honest description of the race relations of that time. The author has perfectly captured the tension that existed between the races, the arrogance of the whites who felt superior and the deference shown by blacks toward them because of their lack of power.
In the north, many were naïve and largely ignorant about the behavior of the southern whites toward the blacks. In the north, they did not have separate facilities. There were no signs that said blacks had to board buses last or move to the back, schools and families did not discuss race relations since the prejudice existed beneath the surface. It was much more subtle, but it was alive and well there too.
Although the whites for sure had more power and openly displayed their discrimination, there also existed a counterpart of racial bias against whites among the blacks, although it was not as effective because of their lack of power and support. While the Watts family was going through their traumatic situation in Georgia, another debacle was seeding itself in North Carolina, since Mr. Watts was not only a brute and a drunk, he was a racist, somewhat of a womanizer, and honesty was not his strong suit.
Jubie describes her father as someone she loves, but also as someone who is abusive and quite rough around the edges. He drinks to excess and seems to make up his own rules as he goes along. Jubie’s mom Paula, was like most women of that time. She deferred to her husband who made the rules, made the decisions, paid the bills and controlled the home and lifestyle; and Paula had a nice lifestyle. She had her own home, a maid, cars, a country club membership and committee meetings to attend. Her husband had his own business which he operated with his brother. She spent her time socializing, paying little attention to what her husband was doing. She simply reaped the benefits of his effort without giving it another thought. In short, she lived a charmed life, never dreaming they would fall from grace.
As Jubie relates the story, the timeline moves back and forth to lay the groundwork for what transpires during their travels. There seems to be a fine line between prejudice and tolerance with both sides exhibiting bias toward each other, albeit the white representation is a much more violent one. Jubie is a horse of a different color. She is open-minded and truly loves Mary, regardless of her color. There is mutual respect in their relationship which is warm and accepting. Jubie seems to be brighter and more willing to confront the world than most girls her age would be. She represents the future.
The white people of her parent’s generation are portrayed as rather ignorant, selfish, inconsiderate and lacking in faith, worshiping money rather than a higher authority, while black people are law abiding, religious, and loyal, believing in a higher authority, always taking the higher road to the white peoples’ lower one. The older white race is representative of the past.
The story is a coming of age story for both Jubie and her mother. Paula must begin to see the world without her rose colored glasses and grow more independent. Jubie must face the frailties of her parents and their generation and mature prematurely. In the short interval in which the story takes place, both mother and daughter are forced to confront issues and deal with them autonomously. Both rise to the task.

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