Very Busy Mom (Burlingame, CA)
Nanny Diaries meets The Devil Wears Prada
A very small glimpse of life as an illegal domestic in New York City and the hardships one must go through in order to feel safe and trusted in your job. The author did a fantastic job pulling the reader into the life of the main character. I really wish she had shared more of the day-to-day activities...it seemed like a lot was left out, either from boredom or the atrocity of it all. Great book for trip...not so sure for a book club read though.
Gunta K. (Glens Falls, NY)
A Spicy Read
This story is about Grace. She is a recent arrival from Trinidad. From "the bush" as she herself puts it. Grace is very young, employed by an American couple residing in Brooklyn. Herein starts the fun. Caribbean nannies of all shapes and sizes, with different dialects from their respective islands, congregate, with their charges, in a local park on most mornings. Of course they all know each other and all the gossip from the households they work in. This outing is the ultimate social life for these women. There is a parallel, or even one could say an underground culture running alongside the every day life of Americans. A culture of people who live among the Brooklynites, as well as, other sections of New York, who speak patois, an island tongue, cook their island foods, observe their own customs, have their own troubles, spend time criticizing their employers but still manage to have a lot of fun. Grace and her friend Kathy are marvelously depicted as to their fascination with our land and its opportunities, as well as, their nights out in their own dance halls with that spicy way of dressing plus the loudest music ever.
Victoria Brown has caught the spices and hot winds of Trinidad in her book.
Sylvia G. (Scottsdale, AZ)
Minded a little
One test of a novel is how eager you are to pick it up. "Minding Ben" was compelling and I read it in large gulps over 48 hours. The wonderful nanny, Grace is so likable and you can't help but wish her well...although well is hard to come by in her life. But here is what I minded...I found there was a lot of anti-semitic rhetoric in the book and not much to counter it. If there had been more emphasis on a least one sympathetic Jewish character, I would have been more comfortable.
Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL)
Appreciating What You Have
This book points out the disparity between U.S. citizens and immigrants and what they go through to try and fit into this society. Dialect was a little difficult to interpret at times but all in all, very good writing.
Julie D. (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)
A Great Book
First of all, I read this book in 24 hours. I couldn't put it down. I really loved Grace, and wanted to know what was going to happen next. This book had so many layers and such great multi-dimensional characters that it would be a great selection for a bookclub. I will definitely recommend this to my friends.
Susan S. (Lakeville, MA)
I can't get this book out of my mind.
I stayed up late and woke up early to read this fascinating, true tale. I think I was done in less than two days. It was a bit tough to get into because of the Caribbean patois, but it was worth the effort. You can read the plot summary anywhere, so I won't bother recounting it here. What I want to tell you is that I cared about the characters in the book. They were three-dimensional; they were real. The author made me wonder what made her people tick; why did they do what they did? Hopefully, she will do a sequel, I really want to know what happened to Grace -- since this is the true story of the author's experiences as a nanny in NYC, I am optimistic that she won't leave me hanging.
Anne M. (Austin, TX)
Trini Nanny Diaries
This book brought back fond memories of my own time as a nanny for two different families -- mainly because my own treatment was so much better than that received by Grace, the narrator/protagonist of "Minding Ben." The book gives a harsher view of a caregiver's work in New York than does "The Nanny Diaries," although why any of these women put up with the treatment they did is beyond me ... is the "American Dream" really THAT strong?!
Victoria Brown really makes the non-WASP sides of Brooklyn come to life, as well as the worries of a young woman leaving her family for the first time, having to make it on her own with little support even from her own immigrant community. The book made me realize how lucky I was to be employed by the families I cared for!