By: Anna Jean Mayhew
Publication Date: 01/29/2019
My Rating: 5 Stars +
Note: Originally published in 2011
In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation, 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, thirteen-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, from wounded to indomitable.
Buy the Book
“Mayhew keeps the story taut, thoughtful and complex, elevating it from the throng of coming-of-age books.” —Publishers Weekly
“Beautifully written, with complex characters, an urgent plot, and an ending so shocking and real it had me in tears.” —Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters
“A must-read for fans of The Help.” —Woman’s World
“The Dry Grass of August is a haunting debut about family bonds that stretch without breaking, and a panoramic glimpse into an older America and the dying of an age. Young Jubie Watts is the perfect heroine and narrator of this tale with her clear-eyed look at the inconsistencies of the adults around her, and for her courage to ask "why." Ms. Mayhew creates authentic characters and a Southern setting that will make you feel and smell a summer day from half a century ago. A beautiful book that fans of The Help will enjoy.”
—Karen White, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She has been writer-in-residence at Moulin à Nef Studio Center in Auvillar, France, and was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers' Network. A native of Charlotte, NC, A.J. has never lived outside the state, although she often travels to Europe with her Swiss-born husband. Her work reflects her vivid memories of growing up in the segregated South. A.J.—a mother and grandmother—now lives in a small town in the North Carolina Piedmont with her husband and their French-speaking cat. Read More
Q&A with the Author