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The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
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Feb 10, 2011

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The Dry Grass of August is Anna Jean Mayhew's debut novel about 1950s southern racism seen through the eyes of a thirteen-year old white girl.

When thirteen-year old Jubie Watts embarks on a road trip with her mother, siblings, and the family's black maid named Mary, Jubie witnesses in full effect how racism becomes more prevalent driving from North Carolina to Florida. When tragedy befalls Mary, Jubie is confronted with the rudest awakening to just how horrible and evil the world can be.

The Dry Grass of August is well-written and very touching; novels on racism always make my stomach turn with the powers they possess to make us realize just how ugly, corrupted and violent people can be. It's not surprising why young girls like Jubie and her siblings lose their innocence sooner than needed when they witness the people they love being unjustly mistreated and abused.

Although written from Jubie's point of view, The Dry Grass of August is not so much a coming-of-age novel as a sharp example and reminder that skin-color is irrelevant and love is all that truly matters. Alongside Jubie we experience her same emotions, her same heartache, and her same compassion.

Although I really enjoyed this novel and finished it in a matter of hours, it is very similar to so many other novels of the same nature with the same plot that I found it easily forgettable. Jubie's voice is touching, but passive.

The Dry Grass of August has been compared to The Secret Life of Bees (2002) by Sue Monk Kidd, The Help (2009) by Kathryn Stockett and Ellen Foster (1987) by Kaye Gibbons. Having read two out of three of these novels, I'm not so sure I agree with the comparison. Regardless, The Dry Grass of August is an engaging read.

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