Excerpt from The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Dry Grass of August

by Anna Jean Mayhew

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2011, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Yes."

"His diaper's okay. Take him for a while, Mary." She helped Davie climb over the seat. Mary reached for him and he beamed at her, spreading his arms.

Stell asked Mama, "When?"

"At Taylor's, but not on the highway. Not yet."

"I'm qualified." Stell was pushing her luck. Mama didn't answer.

We were going first to Pensacola, Florida, to see Mama's brother Taylor Bentley, who was divorced. His graduation photo from Annapolis was in our living room in a brass frame, taken when he was twenty-one, handsome in his white uniform, his hat held under his arm. When he kicked Aunt Lily out, a judge said their daughter would stay with Uncle Taylor. I heard Mama on the phone. "Lily Bentley is a slut." My dictionary cleared up the mystery enough for me to suppose that Aunt Lily must have been caught in an affair, a word that made me long for details I was hopeless to know.

In the early afternoon, we ate pimento cheese sandwiches in the car and stopped at an Esso station west of Columbia. I dug through the ice in the drink box until my hand was red before I came up with a Coke, and stood in the sun gulping it despite Mama saying I could only have one and to make it last.

I looked around for Mary and saw her closing the door of an outhouse behind the filling station. She took Kleenex from her pocket and wiped her hands. I went to her. "You going to get something to drink?"

She shook her head. "Don't know when I'll find another outhouse."

Stell walked up, tapping her Coke. "Want to play traveling?"

"Okay. Two bits." I guzzled my drink and belched.

"Suave. Do that for the next cute boy you see."

"I'm ready. One, two, three!"

We turned our bottles over. "Charlotte! I win!" I loved beating Stell at games.

"Atlanta," she said. "You lose."

I called to Mama, who was by the drink box, a Royal Crown in her hand, "Which is farther away, Charlotte or Atlanta?"

"Atlanta. Why?"

I slapped a quarter on Stell's outstretched palm. She smirked.

An old man popped the cap off a Seven-Up and raised it as if he were playing traveling, too. He squinted at the bottom of the bottle, where a bubble of air was trapped in the thick glass, green and sparkling in the sun. "Ever who blowed this'un had the hee-cawps," he said in a cracked squeal. When we got in the car, I told everybody what he'd said and the funny way he talked. Only Mary laughed.

We took off again, Puddin snuggling under the feather pillows we'd brought along, curling herself up until just her sandals showed. She hated air-conditioning. I thought it was because she was skinny, with not enough meat on her bones to keep her warm.

I always looked out for Puddin, because before you knew it, she'd disappear. Once, on a trip to the mountains, we left her at a filling station and went twenty miles before we missed her. I'm the only one who noticed how often she hid herself away. Mama wasn't alarmed. "She's only five. She's only six. She's only seven."

Wiggles of heat rose from the highway, and the trip was long and boring, even with Mama pointing out things such as the Georgia state line and peach trees heavy with fruit. We played alphabet until I was almost to Z. Mary pointed to a calf and whispered, "Young cow," for me to use for my Y. Stell said that wasn't fair, and Mama wouldn't rule, so we quit.

In a town called Toccoa, I saw signs in people's front yards: SEPARATE BUT EQUAL IS GOOD FOR EVERYONE and SEGREGATION AIN'T BROKE.DON'T FIX IT.

"Mama, what do those signs mean?"

"It's got to do with that mess in Washington." She glanced at Mary in the rearview mirror. "Never mind; it won't happen in Charlotte."

Excerpted from The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew. Copyright © 2011 by Anna Jean Mayhew. Excerpted by permission of Kensington. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pachinko
    Pachinko
    by Min Jin Lee
    Pachinko has one of the best opening lines I've encountered in some time: "History has failed us, ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Summer Before the War
    by Helen Simonson
    Set on the cusp of World War I, The Summer Before the War exudes strength and spirit as a small town...
  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport

    A masterful retelling of the Russian Revolution from the author of The Romanov Sisters.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Piece of the World
    by Christina Baker Kline

    A stunning novel of friendship, passion, and art from the #1 bestselling author of Orphan Train.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant – it tends to get worse.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.