The Dry Grass of August (Paperback)

By Anna Jean Mayhew

Kensington Publishing Corporation, 9780758254092, 289pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 2011

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Description

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.


About the Author

The Dry Grass of August is Anna Jean Mayhew's first published work of fiction. She presently resides just outside of the Raleigh-Durham, NC area.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. What do you think about Paula’s decision to take Mary on the trip, given the antipathy in the deep south post Brown v. Board?
  2. Why does Puddin so often try to hide or run away? What does her behavior say about the family?
  3. Why didn’t Paula try to stop Bill from beating Jubie?
  4. Is Uncle Taylor a racist?
  5. Why did the clown at Joyland by the Sea give Jubie a rose?
  6. If you’d been Paula (or Bill) what would you have done when Cordelia failed to appear for dinner? How could they have handled that differently?
  7. Why does Paula take Bill back after his affair with her brother’s wife?
  8. Did Bill and Paula act responsibly as parents when they allowed Jubie and Stell to go with Mary to the Daddy Grace parade in Charlotte? The tent meeting in Claxton?
  9. Why didn’t Paula punish Jubie for stealing the Packard to go to Mary’s Funeral?
  10. What drove Stamos to suicide?
  11. Which major character changes the most? The least?
  12. Which character in the book did you identify with the most? The least?
  13. If you could interview Jubie, what would you ask her? What about Mary? Paula? Bill? Stell?
  14. If Bill died at the end of the book, what would his obituary say if Paula wrote it? If Stell wrote it? If Jubie wrote it?
  15. Given that there’s little hope for Jubie and Leesum to be friends in 1954, what would it be like for them if they met again today?
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