Rated of 5
by Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC) 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.
Rated of 5
by Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI) 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.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by Laura A. (Jeremiah, KY) Eye-Opening
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.
Rated of 5
by Jean N. (New Richmond, OH) Minding Ben
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.
Rated of 5
by Patricia S. (Yankton, SD) spell binding
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.
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