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Monday, March 4, 2013

If you loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett, then you should try The Dry Grass of August.  My friend, Susan, loaned me this book and I read it in two days. I could have read it straight through if I did not have a husband to take care of!! Set in the early 1950s, the book allows readers to get a glimpse of life during the Jim Crow period in the South.  As I was reading some of the background of this novel, I found that this is author Anna Jean Mayhew's first work and she is 70 years old. I am impressed and I hope she writes more books.

As the book opens, Paula Watts is packed up and ready to leave for a visit with her brother in Pensacola, Florida. Traveling along with Paula are her children, Estelle Annette(Stel), June Bentley(Jubie), Carolina(Puddin) and baby son, David. Paula's "help" is also going with the family. Mary Luther is a 46 year old black maid who has worked for the family for nine years. The story is told from the viewpoint of 14 year old Jubie. Jubie finds it hard to fit into her family. Stel is the golden child. Puddin is still cute and sweet and of course, the baby and only son, David, is adored.  Jubie also describes the life of a family whose patriarch is an alcoholic. Her father, William, seems to take most of his anger out on Jubie.  So Jubie is looking forward to a beach vacation at her uncle Taylor's house, far from her father. The trip to Pensacola is relatively uneventful. The Watts family eat many of their meals at Roadside parks to avoid the issue of seating Mary in a restaurant. Finding a motel along the road is another trial as many do not rent rooms to blacks. Jubie enjoys visiting her Uncle Taylor and cousin Sarah but she has her eyes opened to some sad facts about her father while on vacation. Little does Jubie know that this trip will change her life in so many ways. Soon the visit is over and the Watts family heads for Pawley's Island, South Carolina, where they plan to rent a cottage for a week of family vacation. Paula Watts is insistent on stopping in Claxton, Georgia to buy some fruitcakes. As they drive into Claxton with sixteen year old Stel at the wheel, their car is hit by a drunk driver. The damage to the car necessitates a stay in Claxton while it is repaired. This is where the trouble starts. Jubie is crushed by the events that take place in the small town but she shows fortitude in meeting her sorrow face on and doing the right thing. The characters and the theme of this novel will  linger in your mind, reminding you of the good and bad in everyone.




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