In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation and what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood and for the woman who means the world to her.
On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family's black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father's rages and her mother's benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.
Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence.
Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us from child to adult, wounded to indomitable.
The Dry Grass of August
In August of 1954, we took our first trip without Daddy, and
Stell got to use the driver's license she'd had such a fit about.
It was just a little card saying she was Estelle Annette Watts,
that she was white, with hazel eyes and brown hair. But her
having a license made that trip different from any others, because
if she hadn't had it, we never would have been stuck in
Sally's Motel Park in Claxton, Georgia, where we went to buy
fruitcakes and had a wreck instead. And Mary would still be
Stell and I carried the last of the suitcases to the driveway. The sky was a wide far blue above the willow oaks that line Queens Road West, with no promise of rain to break the heat. I put Mary's flowered cloth bag in the trunk and Daddy took it out. "Always start with the biggest piece." He picked up Mama's Pullman and grunted. "She packed like she's never coming back." He hefted it into the trunk. "Okay, girls, what's ...
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Anna Jean Mayhew Answers Questions About The Dry Grass of August
Hi, Dave, I've had a positive response from the majority of readers, especially Southerners. The book was an Okra Pick from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance; I've been invited to speak at the Southern Voices conference in February, ... - Carolina
Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?
I think the comments by many of you are right on -- that divorce in the South in the 50's was not something that was done lightly. Plus the fact that the character Paula was not a strong person - dave s
Do you think Jubie's parents are racist?
I think probably both Bill and Paula were raised as products of their environment where whites thought themselves to be completely superior to blacks. I think as Paula may have had more personal interactions with Mary and others, she could see the ... - sylviaj
Do you think Paula makes the right decision to take Mary on the trip?
I really agree with the gist of most of the responses to this question. I don't think Paula thought about the inherent dangers of such a trip. Even when her sister-in-law mentioned that the Klan had become active (on page 3, I think), Paula pooh-... - Carolina
Do you think Stell is partially responsible for Mary's death?
I do think that Stell is partially responsible but at 16 I don't believe that she understood the possible remifications of their actions. After all, she had Paula as her role model! Had Paula been more sensitive or less selfish, Mary wouldn't have ... - Terry R
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