Lisa G. (Riverwoods, IL)
Minding Ben by Victoria Brown
Customs, dreams, losses and relationships make this book a very good choice for book groups. At 16 Grace finds her way into a life she would have never imagined when arriving in NY from Trinidad She becomes a nanny to Ben who much to his mother's consternation, loves Grace unconditionally. Themes of friendship, family and pretending to be what one is not are woven throughout the book, making it a very emotional read
Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)
When I read something comparing this book to "The Help", I was skeptical and fully prepared to be disappointed. After only a few pages, the skepticism was put aside and I became immersed in Grace's story. Her tale of the trials she endured as an immigrant in this country are told in a very personal way, making her character come alive. The use of vernacular and dialect makes all the characters and events real and believable. While Grace's inability to remove herself from her situation with the Bruckners was at times frustrating, her poise and equanimity makes her a sympathetic figure and I felt she would triumph in the end. I'm ready for the sequel!
Kathy S. (Danbury, CT)
I so did not like this book. The characters were not well developed and the story line did not hold my attention. Every time the book started to get interesting, the author would drop that story line and begin another. I especially did not like how the book ended ... very abruptly and with many loose ends.
Lucy B. (Urbana, Ohio)
Coming to America
The prologue was about a sixteen-year-old girl coming to America and then not being met by her cousin at the airport. The first chapter was a year or so later and it was hard for me to try to understand how she fit in with the characters at this point. The rest of the story was told well and I felt sorry for how she was treated by her employers.
Shelby L. (Hamden, CT)
Many better books to read
This is a light, better than "beach read" book but the story felt familiar and predictable, as if I already knew the immigrant Nanny experience from what I've read in the news or seen on TV. The characters are real, although stereotypical in many instances, evil Jewish landlord, gangster Island acquaintances, neurotic employer, and on and on.
If your reading time is limited try something else.
Bea C. (Liberty Lake, WA)
There but for the Grace.....
The author, like the main character, Grace, experienced immigrating to the US from Trinidad and working as a nanny, which she calls a "baby sitter". Grace finds employment, but it seems to be a hopeless, go nowhere situation, with no chance of saving enough money to better herself and almost a slave to an unfeeling, power hungry employer. The book touched on the problems of getting a green card, disappointment in what immigrants find in America and homesickness for their homeland while trying to make the U.S. their new home. Not an exciting plot, but interesting enough to keep reading until the end. Anyone who feels discouraged about their own set of circumstances will feel a little luckier about their life after reading what these people go through.
Barbara F. (Santa Rosa, CA)
I would recommend this book without reservation. The narrative is compelling and draws the reader into the frustration, unfairness and sometimes the small joys of the illegal immigrant life in New York City. I was often unsure of whether I was reading a memoir or a novel. I think this confusion stems from a lack of story line or plot. It is, at times, an uncomfortable read because the reader does not want to be associated in any way with the thoughtlessness and selfishness the heroine has to deal with. The ending adds to the confusion between memoir and novel but that doesn't spoil the read. It would be a good Book Club read.