Minding Ben [NOOK Book]

Overview

At sixteen, Grace Caton boards her first airplane, leaving behind the tropical papaya and guava trees of her small village in Trinidad for another island, this one with tall buildings, graceful parks, and all the books she can read. At least that's what Grace imagines. But from the moment she touches down, nothing goes as planned. The aunt who had promised to watch over her disappears, and Grace finds herself on her own.

Grace stumbles into ...
See more details below
Minding Ben

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

At sixteen, Grace Caton boards her first airplane, leaving behind the tropical papaya and guava trees of her small village in Trinidad for another island, this one with tall buildings, graceful parks, and all the books she can read. At least that's what Grace imagines. But from the moment she touches down, nothing goes as planned. The aunt who had promised to watch over her disappears, and Grace finds herself on her own.

Grace stumbles into the colorful world of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, having been taken in hand, sort of, by a fellow islander, Sylvia. Here, she's surrounded by other immigrants also finding their way in America. From her Orthodox Jewish landlord, Jacob, to her wannabe Jamaican friend, Kathy, who feels that every outfit can be improved with a Bedazzler and a low-cut top, there's much to learn about her new city.

Most challenging of all is figuring out her new employers, the Bruckners, an upper-middle-class family in Manhattan. The job is strange--Grace's duties range from taking daily nude photos of her pregnant boss (a shock to her, since she's never even seen her own mother naked) to dressing in a traditional maid's costume to serve Passover seder. But Grace loves four-year-old Ben, and she's intrigued by the alternately friendly and scheming nannies who spend their days in Union Square Park, and by their constant gossip about who's hired, who's fired, and who, scandalously, married her boss.

As the seasons change, Grace discovers that the Bruckners have surprising secrets of their own, and her life becomes increasingly complicated and confusing. But opportunities appear in the most unexpected places, and Grace realizes that she's living in a city--and a world--where anything is possible.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the lead-up to the racially turbulent summer of 1991 and Brooklyn's Crown Heights riots, this troubling and touching novel chronicles 18-year-old Grace's move from Trinidad to New York City in search of work and new opportunities, but her Sunday-through-Friday life as a live-in nanny is all the more stark when set against her weekends with a dirt-poor family that needs her just as surely as her demanding employers. Cinderella's wicked step-family have nothing on married-into-money Miriam, who runs Grace ragged with selfish demands, or haggard, penny-pinching Sylvia, stuck in a wretched apartment back in Brooklyn with three kids and unemployed baby-daddy Bo. Everyone shares desperation: Grace for a green card, Sylvia for a future, Miriam for acceptance. The language of the Caribbean sings through the pages, and if the adults misbehave and mismanage their lives, your heart breaks for the kids—Miriam's son, Ben, and the other Manhattan kids watched over by hired help who have their own codes of behavior in the parks and playgrounds. A too-tidy ending wraps it all up with a bow of hope, but the striving and sadness that precedes it is what sticks. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In the tradition of The Nanny Diaries, this debut novel features an evil Manhattan mommy and a sweet little boy but mixes in a lot of ethnic flair. Sixteen-year-old Grace leaves Trinidad to come to New York City and seek her fortune. Her father is ill, and she hopes to make enough to send money home. After a difficult start, she gets a job with the wealthy Bruckners, minding their adorable son, Ben. Both parents treat Grace as not only nanny but maid and servant. She picks up the mother's dirty underwear, does dishes daily, and is traipsed to the in-laws' house to serve at a party. What makes this title stand out from other nanny fiction is the author's focus on Grace's island culture and the West Indian nannies and friends with whom Grace spends time. Their cultural home away from home can be positive in its support system but also has its fair share of stressful relationships. VERDICT Revealing New York's melting pot at its most complicated, this interesting first novel is told from the perspective of someone who has been there and done that. Brown drew from her personal experience as a young immigrant nanny, and her story is fascinating, tender, and heartbreaking. [Selected by Voice as its Spring 2011 Publisher's Pick; Brown is profiled in "Spring Editors' Picks," LJ 2/15/11.—Ed.]—Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC
Kirkus Reviews - Kikus Reviews

Trinidad teen journeys to America in 1989, only to find herself trapped in thankless domestic drudgery.

At 16, Grace leaves behind her small island village, her crippled diabetic father, her devout born-again mother and her younger sister. Upon arrival in New York City, the cousin who had promised to meet her flight doesn't show. She ends up in Brooklyn staying with Sylvia, a matronly woman she met at a Crown Heights street fair. But Sylvia's apartment is crowded and toxic: Lead paint peels off the walls, and one of Sylvia's three children is displaying neurological symptoms. Grace finds a nanny position in a Manhattan high rise with a Jewish couple, Miriam and Sol Bruckner. Her duties extend far beyond minding 3-year-old Ben Bruckner. In return for a bed near the washing machine and $200 a week (often less), she's expected to do all the household chores, cooking and laundry. Sol is passive-aggressive and may have had an affair with a previous West Indian employee, and Miriam alternately praises Grace and berates her for trivial infractions of arbitrary rules. The Bruckners agree to sponsor Grace for a green card but evade Grace's questions about the progress of her application. Grace finds solace among her fellow nannies, who, with their charges, convene daily at the playground in Union Square. Her friend Kathy, also from Trinidad, but from a wealthier family, introduces Grace to the nightclub scene. Dave, the gay man who occupies the penthouse of the Bruckners' building, seeks her help with his indoor tropical garden and becomes, besides Kathy, her sole trusted confidant. By age 18, Grace has learned dispiriting truths about almost everyone in her new home.

Despite lyrical prose, the narrative does not develop so much as unravel according to vagaries of chance. The Bruckners' casual cruelty beggars belief, but Grace'sinabilityto fight back is even more implausible. However, Brown is a new voice with much to offer.

Kirkus Reviews

Trinidad teen journeys to America in 1989, only to find herself trapped in thankless domestic drudgery.

At 16, Grace leaves behind her small island village, her crippled diabetic father, her devout born-again mother and her younger sister. Upon arrival in New York City, the cousin who had promised to meet her flight doesn't show. She ends up in Brooklyn staying with Sylvia, a matronly woman she met at a Crown Heights street fair. But Sylvia's apartment is crowded and toxic: Lead paint peels off the walls, and one of Sylvia's three children is displaying neurological symptoms. Grace finds a nanny position in a Manhattan high rise with a Jewish couple, Miriam and Sol Bruckner. Her duties extend far beyond minding 3-year-old Ben Bruckner. In return for a bed near the washing machine and $200 a week (often less), she's expected to do all the household chores, cooking and laundry. Sol is passive-aggressive and may have had an affair with a previous West Indian employee, and Miriam alternately praises Grace and berates her for trivial infractions of arbitrary rules. The Bruckners agree to sponsor Grace for a green card but evade Grace's questions about the progress of her application. Grace finds solace among her fellow nannies, who, with their charges, convene daily at the playground in Union Square. Her friend Kathy, also from Trinidad, but from a wealthier family, introduces Grace to the nightclub scene. Dave, the gay man who occupies the penthouse of the Bruckners' building, seeks her help with his indoor tropical garden and becomes, besides Kathy, her sole trusted confidant. By age 18, Grace has learned dispiriting truths about almost everyone in her new home.

Despite lyrical prose, the narrative does not develop so much as unravel according to vagaries of chance. The Bruckners' casual cruelty beggars belief, but Grace'sinabilityto fight back is even more implausible. However, Brown is a new voice with much to offer.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401325930
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/12/2011
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 885,030
  • File size: 633 KB

Meet the Author

Victoria Brown was born in Trinidad and came to the United States alone at just 16 years old. After working as a full-time nanny for several years in New York, she attended the University of Warwick in the UK where she wrote Minding Ben in lieu of her Master's thesis. Eventually, Victoria returned to New York where she now teaches English at LaGuardia Community College. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two adorable children and has a part-time nanny in her employ.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I enjoyed this book! It read really well and the story had move

    I enjoyed this book! It read really well and the story had movement from beginning to end. The book told a great story and also shed some light on the subject of working illegals. You get great reading, entertained by a moving story of teenage Trinidadian Grace and her move to New York and job as a nanny for a Manhattan family; we also learn about the abuse and mistreatment of undocumented workers and a lack or rather non- existent resources that are available to them.
    A lot of reviews talked about not understanding Grace and the other nannies and how she was immature. Duh! She is only 16 at the start of the book and then only ages to 18 by the end, of course she is immature. I think you have to be aware or have some of knowledge about immigrants in America and the experiences of illegal immigrants trying to work for a better life than in their own country. This explains some of the tolerance and decisions that Grace and some of the other nannies had to deal with.
    It continues to amaze me how middle class and upper middle class people, especially mothers, will treat the women who share in the rearing of their children. These women are aiding mothers in the care and raising of their children and they are demeaned, abused, and made to feel less than, especially if they are illegal and women of color. Where is the appreciativeness and gratitude for the women who love your children?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Horrible book

    I strongly disliked this book to the extent that I stopped reading it before the end. The main character was so immature and unbelievable. I found I did not care about her or anyone in the book. I also found it anti-semetic. All the Jews in the book behaved awfully. How did this get published?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2011

    Kritters Ramblings

    A good read, but I sit on the fence as to how much I truly liked it. A story about a nanny in Manhattan who is originally from Trinidad and her struggle to find her place. I loved the cast of characters that surrounded Grace, but I am torn as to whether I liked her. I felt at times that her character didn't truly act her age and at times it was unclear as to what age she truly was. Beyond that - the family she worked for became a clear picture in my mind and I found the other nannies that became her friends were unique yet similar.

    There is one thing in particular that on a personal level, I didn't enjoy. When the nannies all joined at the park, they would fall into their authentic accents. While I find it interesting, it was hard to read. I may have lost a few things because sometimes I just couldn't get it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)