The Dry Grass of August

The Dry Grass of August

by Anna Jean Mayhew
4.2 205


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The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation, what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood—and for the woman who means the world to her. . .

On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family's black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there—cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father's rages and her mother's benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.

Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass, and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents' failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence. . .

Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us—from child to adult, from wounded to indomitable.

"A beautiful book that fans of The Help will enjoy." —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author

"Mayhew keeps the story taut, thoughtful and complex, elevating it from the throng of coming-of-age books." —Publishers Weekly

"A must-read for fans of The Help."Woman's World

"Written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place, The Dry Grass of August is a book for adults and young people both—a beautifully written literary novel that is a real page-turner, I have to add. Fast, suspenseful, and meaningful. I read this book straight through." —Lee Smith, author of Last Girls and Fair and Tender Ladies

"Because the novel is totally true to Jubie's point of view, it generates gripping drama as we watch her reach beyond authority to question law and order." —Booklist

"A masterful work of blending time and place." —The Charlotte Observer

"A beautifully written and important novel. Set in the 1950s South, it deals with race relations in an original, powerful way. It's also a great story about complicated family relationships, told with humor, delicacy, and penetrating insight. I wish I had written this book." — Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly's Child

"Anna Jean Mayhew has a true ear for Southern speech. . .The Dry Grass of August is a carefully researched, beautifully written, quietly told tale of love and despair and a look backward at the way it was back then in the South." —The Pilot (Southern Pines, North Carolina)

"Deeply felt, lasting relationships formed in the mid-20th century South between white families and the African-American women who took care of them. In The Dry Grass of August, Mayhew explores the love and conflicting loyalties in one such extended family, adult and child, black and white. She does so with honesty and sympathy, intimate knowledge and valuable perspective, as well as beautiful writing. This is an important story about the Southern experience and the women who helped to form the American generation now at the peak of its powers." —Peggy Payne, author of Sister India

"Once you've experienced The Dry Grass of August, you'll swiftly see that Anna Jean Mayhew's debut novel deserves all the early praise it's getting. . .the power, bravery and beauty of Mayhew's narrative is beyond contestation and well-deserving of a wide readership." —BookPage

"An extraordinary, absorbing novel." —Historical Novel Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780758254092
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 04/01/2011
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 265,381
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

The Dry Grass of August is Anna Jean Mayhew's first published work of fiction.  She presently resides just outside of the Raleigh-Durham, NC area.

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The Dry Grass of August 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 205 reviews.
Amai66 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful southern lit! This is another powerful piece set against historical background, reminiscent of THE HELP, which I absolutely loved. Through the eyes of 13 year old, Jubie, captured by the language of the time, the believable, beautiful, heart-felt story of family dynamics, segregation and intolerance brought me to tears. I savored every page. Excellent!
marianne68 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It has a story that warms your heart and keeps you entertained!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you loved The Help, you will love this!!
Love_Lit_Fiction More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written, powerful book that tells history through the eyes of a 13 year old girl. Mayhew has created such a rich set of characters in this book - they will touch your heart. Be advised you may need to have some kleenex handy - the book made me cry in certain spots (won't say where in order to not give anything away). Highly recommend this book and congratulations to this new Author!
myimaginaryfriend More than 1 year ago
This book starts out on a subtle note. All of a sudden, I couldn't put it down. I found myself thinking about going home to read it while at work. It's written so well,all kinds of feelings were swirling around in my head and my heart. I think this book should be on High School reading lists everywhere .Please keep writing Anna
frogfriend More than 1 year ago
Awesome debut novel! The Dry Grass of August is honest. It is real life depth perfectly portrayed. Powerful! I read it in one sitting. Cats meowed to be fed, phones rang, storms blew over and I just read on. There is full, wonderful character development. I love that the book is told through Jubie, with the loyal and unjaded perspective of a child. I love the fierce loyalty of Mary Luther to the children in her charge. There is a clear reality portrayed of each of the accompanying characters. The characters are skillfully balanced with historical shadings of the times. This book is equal in passion and depth to The Help, but painted from its own palette of vivid colors. It stands alone in brilliance. I just love well written books! A rare few books are so wonderful that, upon finishing, I hug them. This book got a long hug as I cried. It is going on my 'forever favorites' bookshelf, but right now it has to stay on my nightstand so I can hug it a few more times. I want to keep Jubie and Mary Luther close to my heart awhile longer. Bravo! I cannot wait for AJ Mayhew’s next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A coming of age, slice of life novel. For those of us who grew up during segregation this book will feel different than for those who came after integration. There is a sadness I felt reading this, even with my love of the south, that people could treat another group of people so badly. I remember a sign in the laundromat window when I was a child that said Whites Only, I asked my mother why there was a place where you could only wash white clothes? She told me that wasn't what it meant, yetshe didn't explain to me the truth of what it was. Looking at life now it's hard to think that things were as bad as they were, this novel brought it back for me. We need these stories to remind us of how far we come.
JellybeanJZ More than 1 year ago
Every bit as good as "The Help". Author tells a great emotional and interesting story. It was a fast read because it was an interesting story.
52chickadees More than 1 year ago
“A Riveting, Heart-Wrenching Tale You Won’t Forget” From the very first page, we are introduced to Miss June Bentley Watts; affectionately known as “Jubie”, an “older than her years” thirteen year old who is maturing through the early 1950’s with little to no help from her dysfunctional family. The Watts family unit includes her quick-tempered, abusive Father; Bill, her neglectful, demanding Mother; Paula and three siblings; older Sister, “Stell”, younger Sister, Carolina, better known as “Puddin” and baby Brother; Davey. The Watts family could not function without the loving, hardworking hands of their maid; Mary Luther. Mary is much more than a maid to Jubie. She is a trusted friend, sometimes protector, and confidante as she grows into young womanhood. Family life is complicated by the growing unrest over integration/segregation issues, especially how” Brown vs. the Board of Education “would affect the schools the Watts Sisters attend. As Paula, Mary and the Watts Children set out for Pensacola, Florida for a visit with Paula’s divorced Brother, Taylor (with a fruitcake buying stop in Claxton, Georgia) from their home in Charlotte, North Carolina , little did anyone imagine the trials, tribulations and terror they would encounter! Will Paula face the problems in her life? Especially where Husband, Bill is concerned? Can Jubie come to grips with love found and lost? Ms. Mayhew brings the characters to life so well that you will feel you know them personally. The Drama in this story grips you by the shoulders and won’t release you until you have finished the last page. The author has created a multi-faceted account including a family life which is monetarily comfortable but, sadly, poor in feelings and low on love, accented with courage, profound sadness, denial, infidelity, pride, lies, cheating, growth, duty, trust, responsibility, appreciation and realization. She takes you on this “roller coaster ride”, while touching the topics of alcohol and domestic abuse, racism and suicide with a firm, understanding hand. Above all, Ms. Mayhew had this reader spellbound and experiencing the same gut-wrenching feelings as dear, sweet, courageous and determined Jubie. I implore you to place this wonderful volume on your “To Be Read” list. I have given it five stars and wish I could give it more. Thank-you Ms. Mayhew for your persistence in writing this gem. Here’s hoping there will be others. Nancy Narma
EileenStLauren More than 1 year ago
Anna Jean Mayhew's debut novel, "The Dry Grass of August," is a "Priceless Read." Men, women, boys and girls--Everyone should read this book!
gargaux More than 1 year ago
Great read! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read!!! Loved it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it; you might
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like reads like this. Like to read about how people had to live back then. Not that it was good for some people alot of sad things went on back then. It is nice to see that we have moved forward but we still need to work on the furture for our children and their friends.
GratefulStayAtHomeMome More than 1 year ago
The book was written from the point of view of a 13 year old white girl during the racially divided era of the 1950's in the south. Her innocence and nievity were challenged by racism. It was her choice as to how to respond to her personal tragedy. Well done, Anna Jean Mayhew!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very surprised by how much I loved this book. If you like books based in the past this is a must
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It kept my interest!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It is a quick read and ended far too quickly for me. The story is tender, sweet, and sad. It pulls at your heart strings. It reaffirms the value of simple kindnesses and human dignity. Order it and prepare to be uplifted. I highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book!
Gibson223 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful read, great voice. Enjoyed this historical fiction based upon segregation in this country in the 1960s. Interesting to witness the tumultuous changes desegregation brings to one family and community as told through the innocent voice of a young girl coming of age. Surprised that this book did not receive much attention. Think it was overshadowed by The Help, but very deserving of accolades for the story line and characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story and I was impressed by her struggles to survive.
southern_girlTN More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book. Well written and very enjoyable. A must read.
crikit More than 1 year ago
I am really enjoying this book. I enjoyed the help so was in the mood for something similar. although, different...I think if you liked the help you would like this. I am not finished but am looking forward to where the story is going in the ending of this book.
MarieTM More than 1 year ago
Interesting drama set in a very dark era of US history. The tenacity shown by the main character- despite serious consequences- brings a much needed element of hope to an otherwise brutal (although very realistic) story line. Excellent reading for anyone who enjoys historical and / or southern fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spot on for the time, early 1950's, when I was a teen in the South. Warm. human story that makes one's heart ache. I recommend for readers of all ages. Kudows to the author.