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Publisher's Summary

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, 13-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.

©2011 Anna Jean Mayhew (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

“A haunting debut…Ms. Mayhew creates authentic characters and a Southern setting that will make you feel and smell a summer day from half a century ago.” (Karen White, New York Times best-selling author)

What listeners say about The Dry Grass of August

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

excellent narration

the narrator really brought the characters and time period to life for me. the story itself was quite upsetting but you cant avoid that with this setting & subject matter

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dellaripa
  • 2021-01-17

Solid southern literature.

As a fan of southern literature, this is among the best. Classic but not too rich in complexity and detail, the story progresses with reasonable authenticity, necessary in any southern tale so as to not lose the reader in dismissive disbelief.
The plot twists that are iconic in southern tales are well integrated and hidden until the perfect reveal.
I felt completely satisfied through the whole novel. Good pacing. Good progression. Good framework and meaningful dialogue evolving the character personas and moving the story forward with curiosity and contentment.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • J&J
  • 2020-12-31

Hmmm, interesting, but not sure about this book

The story is linear and consistently moves forward like a slow moving train. While the sites were interesting, I felt like a passenger not knowing where the train was headed.
The focus is unbalanced with too much time spent on the details of the middle class 1950’s suburban “white” family.
The book could have deeper meaning if the author spent more time writing about the main black character, Mary who was the “paid help”. I would have liked to read more of Mary”s home life instead of bits and pieces about her life & children towards the end.
The horrible mistreatment of blacks in the south is a subject worthy of deeper development of the black characters portrayed in this book.

9 people found this helpful

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  • P. Burdge
  • 2012-09-22

Solid story and performance

Good but not great story of the South in the 50s. A bit predictable. Characters are believable, but a bit cliched.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jim Lynch
  • 2020-11-09

Not boring but somewhat listless story of Southern life in the 1950’s

A colorful and descriptive look at the emerging civil rights recognition in the South. The characters are vivid and the audio performance is excellent but the storyline and its plot are weak and somewhat directionless.

5 people found this helpful

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  • NorthernLight
  • 2021-03-19

Great until the ending

This book is really interesting and engaging until the very end, when the author just seems to have given up.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Gail B.
  • 2021-03-15

Resonates to America Today

The book so resonates to what is happening today. Mary was a hero but she was never depicted as one in the book. She sacrificed herself for those two little white girls. The privilege afforded the white family, the way in which the police neglected to address Mary’s kidnapping. All resonates to what is still happening in America today.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kelley
  • 2021-09-25

The Dry Grass of August

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It reminded me of my upbringing with the sad and good moments. I related up until the last few chapters and felt the author did an excellent job describing the time period. The narrator was excellent and also added to the quality of the book which I felt was a definite 5.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Paula S
  • 2021-01-22

Sadly Beautiful ....

Beautiful written and splendidly narrated! I simply could not put this one down. A definite MUST!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Charlena
  • 2013-03-31

Depressing and Predictable

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The main character was honest and believable. Supporting characters were uppity and a bit over the top.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The story was very predictable. It seems as though the author was trying to recreate "The Help" but from a different perspective.

Which character – as performed by Karen White – was your favorite?

The narrator was very good. I would buy another book performed by Karen White.

5 people found this helpful

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  • S B
  • 2022-01-24

Nope, just nope

First, let me start by saying that the narrator was the only good thing going for this story. This book is SO SLOW and boring. I had a hard time getting through the first few chapters. Second, Any author that feels the need to include swear words, especially taking Jesus and God's name in vain is an automatic two thumbs down from me. Its at that point when I'm done with the book. It's ridiculous and absolutely unnecessary.

1 person found this helpful