The Dry Grass of August

Written by Anna Jean Mayhew

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I hope my grandmother never reads this.  I took this book off the shelf in her study without asking.  Which could land me in hot water if she found out.  Don’t worry though, I took good care of it, and it’s sitting by the garage door, ready to be returned on my next visit.

What It’s About

This is the story of a summer trip in the mid-1950’s.  It is told through the eyes of Jubie, a 13-year-old white girl, who goes on this vacation with her mother, sisters, brother, and their black maid, Mary.  The trip takes them from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Florida and back.  This is a coming-of-age story in the vein of Fried Green Tomatoes – a sleepy summer in which nothing and everything happens.

The Good

This book was easy to read and well written.  But it was a challenging book in the best way.  I really felt like I was living these days with Jubie. I was innocent and learning and growing up all at once.  I was with her on her road trip.  Every step of the way.  There were times when I was as surprised as she was by what happened.  And there were times when I knew what was coming and wanted to look away.  I’m still stunned by the way Mayhew managed to make predictable events surprising.

The Not-So-Good

This was a very good book, but not great.  There was an inevitability to this story that, towards the end, prevented me from picking it up as often as I normally would.  I’m really splitting hairs here.  But there were moments in this book where I felt like I was reading prose that someone thought was “important” – a little denser or more obtuse than I tend to prefer.

Final Thoughts

I’m definitely glad I filched this from Nana’s bookshelf.  I enjoyed reading it.  It made me uncomfortable in the way only a good book can.  But I hope I don’t get busted because it wasn’t worth that headache.  If I hadn’t taken the time to explore my thoughts and write a review, I probably wouldn’t have remembered much about it after a few weeks.

3 thoughts on “The Dry Grass of August

  1. It is definitely worth a read! I just visited Nana two weeks ago and she said that the books on that shelf were all read by my grandfather, not her. I still didn’t tell her I borrowed a book without asking, but I’m intrigued that he read this one. Not one I would have expected.


  2. I read this review with interest, the title drew me as did the heat of that Summer emanating from the cover. Obviously I am drawn by the cover… something to keep in mind when choosing a cover for my own book.
    I feel a great need to read it now, to understand the words “Ifelt like I was reading prose that someone thought was “important” – a little denser or more obtuse than I tend to prefer.” Just to prevent anyone saying that about my own work. I hope you show your Nan what you have said about her book, as long as you take out the fact you removed it I think she would be proud. Who knows she may give you a different slant on its contents. A good post left here thank you.


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