Book Concierge's Reviews > The Dry Grass of August

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
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Aug 05, 2012

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bookshelves: concierge, library, audio, southern-lit, racism, debut
Read in August, 2012

Mayhew’s debut novel is a story of racism in the 1950’s South, a coming-of-age novel, and a look at a family falling apart.

Jubie (June Bentley Watts) is our 13-year-old narrator, growing up in an upper-middle-class family in Charlotte NC with her three siblings. Her life, to this point, is centered on family and school; she is aware of change in the world, yet still somewhat sheltered by her age and the adults around her. But a family vacation to visit her Uncle Taylor in Pensacola will open her eyes to tensions within her family and throughout the Southern United States.

There are some emotionally gut-wrenching scenes in the book, and Mayhew tries to explore how these events shape Jubie and her family. But she doesn’t succeed. I think Mayhew was trying to include too much and the plot got away from her. The family drama would have been plenty to handle in a novel. The racial tensions of a country facing major change just after Brown v Board of Education would also have fueled a full novel. In trying to incorporate both these significant plots, Mayhew failed to do justice to either one.

There are moments of very good writing and I was interested and engaged in the novel, but felt as if I’d missed something by the time I got to the end. It’s a good first effort, but I don’t think it will pass the test of time.

Karen White does a very good job on the audio book.
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06/24/2016 marked as: read

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