Minding Ben: Book summary and reviews of Minding Ben by Victoria Brown

Minding Ben

A Novel

By Victoria Brown

Minding Ben
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Apr 2011,
    352 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Minding Ben invites readers into the private world of one of the anonymous West Indian babysitters who have peopled the lives of so many young urban families for decades. Grace left Trinidad for New York with hopes for a better life and education. As she struggles to adjust to her new life - and to determine just what shape her American Dream will take - Grace finds work as a nanny for the unconscionable Bruckners, a job that pays meager wages for its demanding and humiliating responsibilities.

At the mercy of her employers, and unprepared for the playground politics within the West Indian babysitting community, Grace nevertheless carries the day as she navigates the complicated world of America with strength and perseverance. Minding Ben offers a rarely seen account of the immigrant experience in this strong, compassionate, and insightful narrative.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Despite lyrical prose, the narrative does not develop so much as unravel according to vagaries of chance... However, Brown is a new voice with much to offer." - Kirkus Reviews

"[T]his 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." - Library Journal

"The language of the Caribbean sings through the pages, and if the adults misbehave and mismanage their lives, your heart breaks for the kids... A too-tidy ending wraps it all up with a bow of hope, but the striving and sadness that precedes it is what sticks." - Publishers Weekly

The information about Minding Ben shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Rene
Enjoyable but...
Definitely a page turner and a good vacation read. But the author seems to have an issue with Jews. There was not one decent Jewish character in the whole book. From her employers, to their extended family, to the friend's slumlord...I mean, sheesh. I wonder if her editor told her to make Miriam a convert from Catholicism so that at least there would be one horrible person who wasn't Jewish by birth in the book. I was really uncomfortable with that. Ask the author...if the story was in reverse and the main character was a Jewish woman being pushed around by thieving West Indian nannies...and every nanny in the book was stealing, smoking pot, or abusing the children in their care, wouldn't she find the book hard to read?

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Irene M. (Ashland, OR)
Minding Ben
I really enjoyed this book and certainly could relate to the main character. My son and his wife, who live in New York City had a nanny/housekeeper from Guatamala for 16 years. She really became a member of the family. But like Grace, she has had a hard time living in the city.

Grace must overcome many difficulties; language and a completely new culture. She is an admirable character and I could not help but admire her.

The book is well written and I look forward to more stories from Victoria Brown

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Sherri A. (westbrook, ct)
minding Ben
This book is...luscious. You immediately feel for Grace, newly-arrived from Trinidad and desperately searching for a nanny position. What so drives this novel is the strong voice; from Trinidad to the West Indies to Jamaica, these characters seem to spring off the page, each identifiable by their unique ways of speech. I truly enjoyed this book, and will happily pass the title along...!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Victoria (California)
Captivating, Bittersweet
I found Minding Ben to be a captivating, bittersweet read. Fans of The Nanny Diaries will enjoy this book. While often amusing in her reflections on the Manhattan nanny scene, Brown is equally capable of capturing the homesickness and family burdens felt by her immigrant protagonist, Grace. Readers will laugh at the occasionally absurd demands of Grace's employers, but ultimately empathize with the young girl trying to negotiate her place between two very different worlds.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Teresa C. (Pickerington, OH)
Minding Ben
I really enjoyed this book. Gave so many different perspectives rather than just the usual difficult New York parents and spoiled child vs poor pathetic over worked nanny take. Victoria Brown allows us to see what Grace is coming from in her Trinidad upbringing and her daily struggles to survive in New York outside of her nanny day job. Very well rounded look at life of an immigrant nanny. Highly recommend this book!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Marion T. (Palatine, IL)
Minding Ben
The story though interesting is familiar and predictable. A bit stereotypical in regards to all the secondary characters. Similar to the "Nanny Diaries" with a bit of "The Help". The main character, however, is well developed and I did want to know more about her, where she cameo from-where she was going. Not bad for a first novel.

...42 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Information

More Information

Victoria Brown was born in Trinidad and at just 16 years old came alone to New York, where she worked as a full-time nanny for several years. She majored in English at Vassar College before attending the University of Warwick in the UK. Eventually, Victoria returned to New York, where she taught 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. Visit her website at http://www.byvictoriabrown.com/

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.