It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means, it's time for The Book Review Club! Hello and welcome! The reviewers have done an awesome job, so please scoll down. You won't be sorry. See the photo of the woman on the left? That's Kelly Hayes, my critique partner. It's always a treat to read a review by Kelly, and I'm happy to report I managed to talk her into reviewing a book for us this month. Take it away, Kelly!
THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST by Anna Jean Mayhew
It’s 1954 in Charlotte, NC, and 13-year-old Jubie Watts hasn’t yet made the transition from child to young adult. But all that is about to change. Jubie’s mother packs Jubie, her three siblings, and the family’s black maid, Mary in to the car for a road trip to visit family in Florida. For reasons only guessed at by Jubie, her father is not coming with them.
As they drive the sweltering southern roads, Jubie recalls her family’s past and the recent events that have led to the disintegration of her parents’ marriage. Her father’s physical abuse of her and her mother, his roving eye, and his deep-seeded racism all begin to come to light in Jubie’s mind. She tries to reconcile all this with the image of her beloved daddy, but she just can’t see him with a child’s eye anymore.
While staying with her uncle, Jubie develops a profound crush on a fifteen-year-old black boy. Her mind begins to open further and she starts to see the everyday racism all around her. The brunt of it falls on Mary, who has been for Jubie the kind, nurturing presence that her emotionally cold mother could never be. As the family travels deeper into the South, Jubie witnesses people treating Mary as little more than a talking animal. None of this fits with the intelligent, vibrant woman she knows Mary to be and Jubie begins to confront her own inherited prejudices.
Violence simmers beneath the surface of Anna Jean Mayhew’s southern setting. The centerpiece of the story is a violent act that rocks the foundations of Jubie’s narrow world. How she comes to terms with it is what makes this book so moving and heartfelt. Jubie reminds us that rebellion is at the heart of every revolution, be it political or personal. And that we have to stand for what we know in our hearts is right, not matter what society tells us.
The Dry Grass of August invites comparisons because of its setting, protagonist, and subject matter. The Help, The Secret Life of Bees, and of course, To Kill a Mocking Bird all portray coming of age in the segregated South, and they do it well. Anna Jean Mayhew’s book, however, takes an unflinching and personal look at a dark time in our country’s recent history through the eyes of a young white girl on her way to becoming a free-thinking adult. And much like Scout, Jubie will live in the reader’s mind for a long time to come.
Thanks, Kelly, for the thoughtful review. You've convinced me to read this book. And, now, scroll down for links to all the reviews. It's certainly an interesting lot this month!
MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS
Jody Feldman: FLOORS by Patrick Carman (Middle Grade)
Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE ATMOIC WEIGHT OF SECRETS by Eden Unger Bowditch (Middle Grade, Fantasy)
Beth Yarnall: ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake (Young Adult, Paranormal)
Sarah Laurence: JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta (Young Adult)
Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson (Young Adult)
ADULT BOOK REVIEWS
Stacy of The Cat's Meow: A SUMMER IN EUROPE by Marilyn Brant (women's fiction)
Scott Parker: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman (fantasy)
Kathy Holmes: THE GOD'S WIFE by Lynn Voedisch (paranormal historical)
Patti Abbott NEMESIS by Philip Roth
Linda McLaughlin: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA by Jules Verne (science fiction)
Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dalls
Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova
Stacy Nyikos: BAD ISLAND by Doug TenNapel
Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. I've been especially disorganized this month! Thank you so much for your reviews!