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Minding Ben

A Novel

By Victoria Brown

Minding Ben
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Published in USA  Apr 2011,
    352 pages.

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There are currently 48 reader reviews for Minding Ben
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Rene (08/14/12)

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?
Irene M. (Ashland, OR) (02/17/11)

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
Sherri A. (westbrook, ct) (02/15/11)

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...!
Victoria (California) (02/12/11)

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.
Teresa C. (Pickerington, OH) (02/08/11)

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!
Marion T. (Palatine, IL) (02/03/11)

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.
Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC) (02/03/11)

Minding Ben
When I read the synopsis of Minding Ben and the bio of the author, two things immediately came to mind – Jamaica Kincaid, as her bio reads like Victoria Brown’s and Substitute Me by Lori Tharps, a book I read this summer regarding the nanny experience in NYC. So I anxiously waited for Minding Ben to arrive in the mail as I hoping for an updated story of the Caribbean nanny experience which Jamaica Kincaid brilliantly wrote about in her book, Lucy, and to take what Lori Tharps did with a middle class black nanny in Brooklyn and add the Caribbean spin to her storyline. At the end of the story I was disappointed with the overall approach to the story.
I thought the author did an excellent job of showing the frustration, pain, and the abuse an undocumented worker seeking a nanny position has to endure. I also appreciated the peek into the Caribbean world of nannies what binds them and what separates. Many readers had an issue with the dialect, but I did not. I appreciated how the author portrayed the Caribbean women as one to their employers and how among themselves they appreciate their diversity by island, and this is both a common bond and a source of conflict.
The author explores the conflict between the Jewish and Caribbean population in Brooklyn, but this aspect was just too stereotyped to me and did not explore the depth of this relationship. Also, there were secondary themes that were introduced that if further explored would have made a more rounded story, but just left me frustrated. I think the book would have been better served to explore just one or two of themes presented more fully instead of just giving the reader a taste of many. With that said, I do look forward to reading future work by Victoria Brown as she has the potential to be an excellent writer.
Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI) (01/30/11)

Minding Ben
A look into the life of an undocumented immigrant and the nanny community she moves into in New York. Grace is just trying to get by in her new country and take good care of her charge Ben. Ben's parents take advantage of the situation, promising to file immigration paperwork if she "works out" as Ben's nanny. Their blackmail like tactics give Grace hope while forcing her into more and more additional duties. We meet Grace's nanny friends who also are going through similar circumstances. I did enjoy the book however parts of it were familiar and reminded me of Nanny Diaries in the Trinidadian community.

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