La Deana R. (Norman, OK)
Minding Ben by Victoria Brown
Victoria Brown's novel, Minding Ben, was a joy to read. I enjoyed reading about the young Grace's journey from the island of Trinidad to her life in New York City. Arriving in New York City in the late 1980's, merely 16 years old, Grace manages to carve a life for herself as a nanny to the rich as a step toward her own life goals. This book reminds me of The Help, in that it allows for a long look into the treatment of "the help" and the interactions between the different nannies as well as the relationship between the employer and employee. Beautifully written, fully engaging and with characters you want to cheer on, this book is for anyone who wants a refreshing change.
Laura A. (Jeremiah, KY)
I enjoyed "Minding Ben" by Victoria Brown. It was an eye-opening book about the treatment of people living in New York that do not have their green cards. It is a sad and depressing look at how the privileged take such advantage of the people in that situation because they know they can. My heart went out to Grace in her experiences here in the U.S. I would definitely recommend this book to others especially book clubs as there is many themes to discuss within the book.
Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)
I enjoyed this book. I felt like I was reading a memoir. This was a book that I had a hard time putting down. I had to know what was going to happen next, and how things were going to turn out for Grace. Little Ben touched my heart.
The dialect was difficult to read at first, yet it did add to the realism. I felt that the story went at a steady pace, but that the ending was almost rushed and too abrupt.
Patricia S. (Yankton, SD)
I fell in love with Grace in the first chapter of Victoria Brown’s debut novel Minding Ben. I was so hooked by this story that I read the entire book in one sitting – until 4:30 am.
Grace is both a strong heroine and a naïve teenager, taking loving care of the adorable Ben while struggling with the heartless little cruelties of his parents. She also is used by Sylvia, who first befriends her and then takes advantage of her innocence in a strange country.
If you liked The Help you will love Minding Ben.
Robin F. (Tucson, AZ)
a captivating read
This first novel by Victoria Brown is not just a good read, but it holds your attention throughout the entire book. I immediately became caught up in the life and experiences of 16 year old Grace Caton who came from Trinidad to NYC to find employment as a nanny (or child-care worker), but also to further her education because she had a life vision. It is clear that Grace is much more mature than one would expect. She is faced with unusual situations with friends and relatives that make promises they won't keep and they also try to take advantage of her regularly. If is often just a struggle for Grace to find a safe place to spend the night in Brooklyn. She does find a few people who protect her. However, Grace is always able to have a positive outcome. She's a delightful woman and I hope Victoria will give us more of her as she moves through life.
Nancy F. (carmel, in)
The author has done a good job of bringing the character of Grace alive as well as the others. I did find the book somewhat repetitive in terms of the story line. The subject matter was very compelling as I love stories about the immigrant experience. This was not the best book I have read in the past 6 months but it is worth reading if you liked "The Help".
Barbara B. (Alta Loma, CA)
A Multicultural Gem
Minding Ben is so much more than another "Nanny Diaries" novel. For me, it read as a serious story about a young woman, from Trinidad, living in America & struggling to find her place.
Grace is very strong & it was easy to forget that she was 16 years old. I loved her determination to make it work.
I really liked her friends & found myself pulling for them. Miriam & Sol seemed to be over the top & I didn't care what happened to them.
I feel as though this book would make a good choice for book clubs, as there are a lot of social issues to discuss.