Hooray, hooray, it’s book club day!!
I had told you all about a book I read called Tomorrow’s Bread. I had said I liked it and from there, readers wrote to recommend another book by the same author, Anna Jean Mayhew. The book they recommended was The Dry Grass of August.
A few other readers chimed in and recommended the book too. That’s when I thought it might be fun to have a book club…at least for one book. In advance, I would tell you all the book title and you would have a month to read or listen to the book. Then I’d write a review…I’m hoping many of you will chime in and leave comments about what you thought about the book too.
So did I like it? YES. I liked it a lot and am so happy with the recommendation that I read it. Several times while I was listening I told myself to slow down and really savor the book. I really tried to.
Here is what Amazon said about the book…
“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.”
So onto some book club points for discussion:
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?
Personally, I was a little surprised that they took Mary along. At the stops along the way, it was hard to find overnight housing for Mary and Paula knew that in advance. I think Paula took her as she selfishly wanted to have a vacation for herself. Carrying for the children wouldn’t allow her to be the carefree self she wanted to be. I also think that Paula seemed pretty naive throughout the entire story.
Why didn’t Paula try to stop Bill from beating Jubie?
I think we are reading this with the life experience and the times of 2020 – not the 50s. I don’t think women of the 50s were allowed to speak up like the women of today do. I also think that “getting the belt” was a common punishment of the 50s. Many of you reading this I’m sure “got the belt” and it wasn’t thought of as a terrible punishment as we think of it today. Of course, that does not make it right. It is just a way of life between then and now.
Why did the clown at Joyland by the Sea give Jubie a rose?
The clown was black. I’m sure he overheard the conversation when Jubie insisted and even paid extra for Mary to be allowed in. I’m sure the clown was acknowledging Jubie’s ability to fight for Mary thus, gave her the rose.
Which major character changes the most? The least?
I think Paula changed the most. She went from a socialite who was willing to stick her head in the sand to keep her place in society to an almost an activist. She leaves her husband and position because she finally gets the courage to stand up for what is right. At the end of the book, she even gets a job…and one that likely won’t pay much but will help others. I finally found a little respect for her as the book was closing.
I’d love for you all to chime in and give your opinion on the questions I answered…and I’m leaving some for you to answer as well.
Why does Paula take Bill back after his affair with her brother’s wife?
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?
Why didn’t Paula punish Jubie for stealing the Packard to go to Mary’s Funeral?
Which character in the book did you identify with the most? The least?
Please leave some comments and let’s talk about this book…
By the way…Amazon readers gave the book 4.3 stars. What rating would you give the book?
Personally, I believe the book was about a 4.5 book. I would have loved if the book would have been about 70 pages longer and the story about Bill and the backroom could have unfolded a little more slowly…a little more mystery to it all.
If there is a book you would like to suggest that we all read, please leave the name of the book in the comments. I’d love to do another book club book.