Overall, what do you think of The Dry Grass of August?
Join Date: 10/11/10
Join Date: 10/16/10
I enjoyed this novel and thought it was a compelling portrait of a fascinating time. I also enjoyed the fact that the novel was told from the perspective of a teenager rather an adult. I found Paula to be an interesting character and wish we had been given more information about her thoughts, etc.
Join Date: 04/14/11
I absolutely loved it. I couldn't put it down. It was interesting to read about the mid50s time period through the eyes of a child - it gave everything an interesting perspective. The author did an excellent of job of presenting things through Jubie's eyes with a touch of innocence and a growing wisdom of what was really going on in the world
Join Date: 11/09/11
I was worried about getting it read in time but once I started it, I could't put it down. I also liked that it was told through Jubies eyes. Mary was more a mother to her than Paula and it was heartbreaking when Mary was murdered. And Jubie certainly had a backbone- driving so she could attend Mary's funeral. Mary would have been proud of her.
Join Date: 08/10/11
I thought it was pretty good. A quick read. I wish there was more character development of Paula. I wanted to know a lot more about her--what she was thinking , what her relationship with Mary was like in more one to one moments, what was running through her mind when she acquiesced to her husband.
Join Date: 04/27/11
Join Date: 11/14/11
I thought this book was wonderful. I was a story that was believable. As I read it, I deeply felt the time and place- the south in the 50's. I felt for Mary and Jubie. I turned the pages fast, as I felt the tension mounting during that fateful trip. This was an entertaining book. But, much more than an entertaining novel, this book gave important insight into how things were at that time in America. I remember how it was, but younger people who weren't there at the time would gain valuable perspective by reading this book. Anna Mayhew was able to tell it like it was in a sensitive. thought provoking way. I will not forget this book.
Join Date: 05/12/11
I enjoyed reading it. I lived in the south during that time so some of this was very familiar. I didn't personally experience the racism or child abuse that occurred in this story, but I'm sure such events were played out exactly as portrayed. I thought it was well written and have already passed the book on.
Join Date: 07/16/11
I liked it. At first, I found Jubie's character a little unbelievable--too daring, for the times, in her relationship with Leesum for example. But she was an outcast of sorts in her own family, and I think she related to others who were the object of discrimination. Of course she also related to them because they had heart, but I think that the close relationships might not have happened if she had felt more a part of her own family. Good story.
Join Date: 06/13/11
I find this period of history really compelling and thought the book was well done. It reminded me a bit of The Help, both in the relationship between Jubie and Mary and the naivety of the sisters in putting Mary at risk.
I remained a bit puzzled on what happened to Jubie's father to turn him from a good husband and father into the abusive man we saw at the end. But Ms. Mayhew made the characters real enough to me so that i was annoyed with Jubie and her sister for not telling everyone that Mary had sacrificed herself to save them - she obviously couldn't have saved herself but that didn't make her efforts less heroic.
Join Date: 04/21/11
I live in Charlotte, in the very neighborhood where the story is set. The Manor Theater is two blocks from my house, and I drive on the mentioned streets multiple times a week. Queens Road West, with it's willow oaks and houses, is probably the most beautiful neighborhood in the entire city. I therefore expected to love this book, but I did not. I felt that the author took too long to get to the main event of the story. I thought there were several characters that did not advance the story, Carly and Meemaw being two of them. But I think I was most confused by the flat response that Stell and Jubie had to Sarah's announcement that their parents had had an affair, ending in Lisa leaving the family. The two sisters barely reacted. How could that be? That should have been a devastating event in their lives, but it seemed to me they just passed it over. The book picked up significantly for me after Mary's death. I thought the depiction of Jubie's reaction was very true to her character, and I finished up the book feeling better about it than I had been.
Join Date: 05/26/11
Overall, I enjoyed this book though I do agree with susang that the reaction of the sisters to the affair between their dad and their aunt was underplayed. I think this book would be excellent for the young adult reader but for an adult read, it could have a bit more depth.
Join Date: 04/11/11
I enjoyed the book. I suppose more should have been written about the reaction of the affair but I guess I felt that Jubie was pretty detached from her father and mother most of the time. In truth though no matter how dysfunctional families appear, the children usually want to believe things will work out and that the family will stay intact.
I would recommend this to mature young adults and adult readers alike. I think it has a broad enough appeal to the adult reader to be enjoyed especially if discussed at a book club where some of the thems of the story could be explored
Join Date: 12/10/11
Other readers compared this to the Help so I crossed my fingers as I dove into reading this book that it could meet my expectations. It absolutely did and was engaging through the last page. I felt I was right there along side and sharing the emotions of the well-developed characters (my favorite being Juby), during this turbulent time in history. I can't wait to read the author's next book!
Join Date: 10/20/10
I loved the book overall and found it heartbreaking and also inspiring. The one thing I would change would be the first paragraph: "In August of 1954, we took our first trip without Daddy ... Claxton, Georgia, where we went to buy fruitcakes and had a wreck instead. And Mary would still be with us."
So, from the very beginning, I kept waiting for something to happen to Mary. When she was on the beach or the ferry, I was worried she was going to drown. And then I thought she would end up injured from the wreck. As soon as the encounter happened in Claxton, I knew she wasn't coming back, which ruined a bit of the suspense for me. Did anyone else have this issue?
Join Date: 12/11/11
This book is quite accurate in it's portrayal of racism in the 50's. I grew up during that time and like Jubie, I didn't really understand racism. But I did know that there was something wrong with the way that I saw people treated. Jubie also knew that she should not just accept what she saw because the adults around her said she should. I found Jubie to be incredibly brave. I can remember experiencing many of the same feelings.
The book pretty accurately portrayed what it was like to be a child in the South in the 50's and early 60's, though not everyone had extra help. Racism was around us in both blatant and subtle forms. The book touched on other issues of the time as well, such as being a"good wife" and a "good girl." Perhaps one could say this is a book about accepting - do we just go on accepting roles that society dictates just because we are told it is the way things are done? If not, than how do we change them in our own small world?
As in the previous post, I kept waiting for something to happen to Mary and that would be my only criticism. Overall, the book was a quick and enjoyable read.
Join Date: 07/17/11
i agree with many of the previous comments. it was VERY slow in places and I kept thinking Ok let's pick up the pace here and had to force myself to keep going. However once the accident in the intersection happened I thought aha now we're moving. It's so hard to believe that level of racism existed - just so bold and blatant and hateful - that I'm glad I wasn't around back then. I wanted more of Mary - something from her perspective - a thought a remembrance, anything. it's like you know she's wise and wonderful but you only know this peripherally through Jubie. I felt Jubie's grief was genuine and agreed that for the rest of the family Mary's death wasn't much more than an inconvenience of sorts. Overall it was a pleasant read and I'm glad I signed up for it.
Join Date: 09/14/11
I have mixed feelings about the book. I truly enjoyed the protagonist Jubie and for much of the book I liked having a window into her life at that time up until after the family's visit to Uncle Taylor. After the wreck with what happened to Mary and how callous I felt the family was about her murder, continuing their vacation and later all of the further revelations about her father's villainy, I had a hard time finishing the book because I was so disgusted by the pervasive racist ignorance of Southern Whites and the often blunt negative descriptions of Blacks from the author's pen. This book probably hit a little too close to home since I am only a generation removed from Jim Crow. I found no similarities with the Help as there were no fully dimensional relationships between any Black person with a White one across racial or class lines and nothing gained. Even Jubie's relationship with Mary could have been more fully realized if we knew more about Mary other than through Jubie.
Join Date: 10/16/10
In response to susang and jknapp about Jubie's response to her father's adultery, I found this aspect of the novel believable. Jubie is sensitive and empathetic, but not worldly, and I think the adultery situation confuses her. She's just beginning to figure out herself as a young woman - working her way through her feelings for Leesum (are they friendship feelings or something more and what does mean?) - that I found her passing over Sarah's comment to be believable and consistent with her age. If she had had a closer relationship with her mother, perhaps she could have asked her, and one wonders if Mary had lived if she would have asked her, but these are big subjects for young girls and I totally understand why she would have passed over it.
Join Date: 05/12/11
I really enjoyed it although I thought there was a quick wrap-up at the end. I also felt the issue of the shed in the back was never really fully explained. But overall it was really good. Jubie was a wonderful character and I loved Mary. I liked the interaction between Jubie and Leesom. It was fairly realistic, in my opinion. It is interesting how you can have people in the same family who are so racist and others who are not. I have frequently seen that.
Join Date: 08/16/11
I enjoyed the book. I would give it a 4.5 out of 5. I loved the narrator Jubie and feel she was believable. We were warned in the beginning that something would happen to Mary that so I kept thinking, "is it now, or is it later?" I suspected adultery with her father, but wasn't sure if that was the case of not. It was very true to life regarding non-healthy families that face this issue and it was equally believable regarding Jubie's questions regarding racial issues. She loved Mary but her parents gave her mixed messages regarding mixed races, "The way Mama and Daddy talked, mixing blacks and whites in school would be horrible, but maybe they were wrong." Jubie muses on her way to the tent meeting. I wish I could specifically say why I gave it a 4.5 instead of a 5. I only know I could put the book down easily until about page 100. Maybe a bit too much time was spent in introduction. I just know that I couldn't put down The Help or To Kill a Mockingbird once. Something was missing in the first half for me.
Join Date: 08/16/11
I enjoyed the book and it rang true on many levels. I grew up in the rural South during the 60s and 70s, and I thought the language and the attitudes were spot on. The rampant racism depicted in the book is unfortunately very accurate and had moderated only slightly by the 60s and 70s. And the passive approach to child abuse and marital infidelity is accurate as well. Wives and children were expected to suffer silently rather than rock the boat. This was encouraged not only by the husbands but also by the judicial system, churches, etc. I found myself comparing the various characters in the book, including Jubie, to people in the community I grew up in. Ultimately, Jubie illustrates that there are good and thoughtful people in every community who rise above the prevailing attitudes and represent hope for the future.
Join Date: 05/19/11
A great story with a fast paced, easy to read style. But...I never felt I really got to know the characters, that you never really got inside their heads to understand all the inner turmoil/emotional rollercoaster they must have been experiencing. I think the author got into a story that she obviously knew very well from a personal standpoint, but forgot to bring along those of us who never experienced the South in the 50's. A missed opportunity, especially since she is an otherwise gifted storyteller.
Join Date: 12/26/11
I really loved this book- loved that it was told from the perspective of a young girl, loved Mary. The 50's in the US was such an embarrassment to everyone that it is hard to read about the cold cruelties of racism... and for no reason!! Jubie's mother made a lethal error in judgement by taking Mary with her to her brothers. The reader knew from the beginning that nothing positive was going to come from the trip.
As muched as I loved the writer's style, I really could only read small amounts at a time. I was born in the 50's, and while I didn't experience it first hand, it was very painful to know that these things were happening! The revelation that Jubie learned when she felt so attached to Mary hit me like a ton of bricks.... Mary had had an entire life that Jubie didn't even know about. Overall, I am glad that I read the book. It was very well-written and held my attention even though I could only stomach little bits at a time!
Join Date: 06/16/11
Though I am late to this discussion since the holidays being,as always, chaotic I just now finished reading the book which I did in one day. I have found all of the comments above so interesting and now have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It's characters were realistic and their responses and actions appropriate to the time and setting. Thought growing up in this same time period in a very whitebread Midwest farming community I was never exposed to nor aware of segregation as such. Though I now live in the South, I am continually being educated about those times in my now home state. I think the author told the story well as someone who was there and probably portrayed the characters fairly realistically. The pacing of the story was excellant in my opinion and each character well portrayed. The facts of what was happening to each of them drove the action very believably and they all ended up in the mode of 'we will just get past this and go on'.
Join Date: 06/16/11
I thoroughly enjoyed it and fortunately I was traveling so basically got to read it straight through on the planes, which is a rare treat. In response to the questions about Jubie's and Stell's responses to their father's adultery, I agree with sarahd that this aspect feels totally believable. A child in this situation is not truly going to understand all of the issues, implications and ramifications of the the adultery of her father. Of course she feels that something "bad" is going on and can see other people's reactions, but with such a dysfunctional family constellation there is truly no safe adult for her to ask questions with which to understand or explore her own feelings. I expect that if she had asked any questions or tried to express her confusion and her hurt, she would have received the response that she was "too young to understand." So she, as any child in this type situation, just has to bottle up or repress her reactions.
Join Date: 04/20/11
I was entranced by this book. At the same time, I almost dreaded reading it, as I knew something bad was going to happen and I didn't want to know about it. I lived in New Orleans from 1963 until 1973, a bit over 10 years. I'm a "Yankee" from the Pacific NW and found the culture there very different from what I was used to. It was during the time of schools being integrated by Federal order, or freedom marchers being killed, turmoil abounded. I taught in an an inner city high school with but 11 white students. The first day I was there as a student teacher, the students rioted, literally. But, what a fruitful time I had at that school; I learned so much about my students, their culture, their daily lives. I only was there two years and then my husband was transferred back to the NW, but those experiences somewhat colored my reading of this book. What an excellent book, IMO, it is. Even the ending, as traumatic as it was, was realistic. Well written; at times difficult to read.
Join Date: 12/29/11
Join Date: 04/11/11
I have recommended this book to my book club for a monthly selection. We have read several books with similar themes including The Help and Mudbound. I agree that it is a fast read but I plan on re-reading it before our discussion. I think after reading so many of the posts on this link that I have some different perspectives.That is one of the things most enjoyable about book discussions.
Join Date: 12/03/11
I enjoyed the book, and I think that it would be useful for young adults to read to get a picture of the pre-integration South than they may get from history books. I think Anna Jean Mayhew did not write strictly for the young-adult audience, and so the young-adult market may miss this book, which would be unfortunate.
Join Date: 12/05/11
Hi, and thanks so much for your comment. Actually, I've gotten two reviews recommending DRY GRASS as young adult literature: http://www.reading.org/General/Publications/blog/BlogSinglePost/11-09-14/Young_Adult_Book_Review_The_Dry_Grass_of_August.aspx -- and --
You're right, I did not write the book for the younger reader, and really wanted it marketed as literary fiction, but I'm SO pleased that it is now crossing over to young adult readers. I've spoken to 5 senior high classes, and have enjoyed those occasions tremendously. Mostly they wanted to know if the book was autobiographical (only in part), and whether things really were that bad "back then." I assure them that I was writing from experiences I had as a teenager, but that I wasn't really aware of how bad things were until I became an adult, looking back on my memories. I'm happily also speaking to groups of seniors (three retirement communities so far), which is quite a different take...the elder audiences lived through the things in my book.
Join Date: 12/03/11
So glad to hear that there have been reviews recommending DRY GRASS to young adults. I'm on the other end of the spectrum, having lived through the things in the book, but in the North, where not all of those things were experienced first hand. There was, however, some subtle racism at work even in the North, where "white flight" to the suburbs was a reality. And yes, we may not have realized how bad things were back then, but from the perspective of adulthood, and comparing then to now, we can see that things were "that bad."
Join Date: 12/05/11
I enjoy hearing from people in other parts of the country (outside the South), because I believe racism is a national thing, not just southern (certainly worst in the South, but not restricted to geographical boundaries). I, too, participated briefly in white flight, but came back home upon realizing there was no running away, and that becoming part of the solution was the only thing to do.
Please login to post a response.