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Extended Audio Sample The Dry Grass of August, by Anna Jean Mayhew Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,592 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anna Jean Mayhew Narrator: Karen White Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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, 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, wounded to indomitable.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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

  • “Written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place, The Dry Grass of August is a book for adults and young people both—a beautifully written literary novel that is a real page-turner, I have to add. Fast, suspenseful, and meaningful. I read this book straight through.”

    Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Jubie is a compelling heroine…This mesmerizing story takes place when segregation is being challenged in the highways and byways of the Deep South…and…the setting emerges as a pivotal character in this important debut novel.”


  • “Mayhew grew up in Charlotte in the 1950s, so the voices ring unflinchingly true. Jubie is a compelling heroine in the mold of Lily Owens in The Secret Life of Bees. This mesmerizing story takes place when segregation is being challenged in the highways and byways of the Deep South, no matter what the Supreme Court has ruled. Local color dominates with a tent revival, a traveling carnival, Claxton fruitcakes, sandy white beaches, and white gloves and heels, as the setting emerges as a pivotal character in this important debut novel.”

    VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

  • “A beautifully written and important novel. Set in the 1950s South, it deals with race relations in an original, powerful way. It’s also a great story about complicated family relationships, told with humor, delicacy, and penetrating insight. I wish I had written this book.”

    Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly’s Child

  • “Deeply felt, lasting relationships formed in the mid-twentieth-century South between white families and the African American women who took care of them. In The Dry Grass of August, Mayhew explores the love and conflicting loyalties in one such extended family, adult and child, black and white. She does so with honesty and sympathy, intimate knowledge and valuable perspective, as well as beautiful writing. This is an important story about the Southern experience and the women who helped to form the American generation now at the peak of its powers.”

    Peggy Payne, author of Sister India

  • “A must-read for fans of The Help.”

    Woman’s World

  • “Mayhew gives readers a compelling and insightful protagonist…Mayhew keeps the story taut, thoughtful, and complex, elevating it from the throng of coming-of-age books.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Because the novel is totally true to Jubie’s point of view, it generates gripping drama as we watch her reach beyond authority to question law and order.”


  • A Sir Walter Raleigh Award Finalist in 2011

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jackie | 2/20/2014

    " I absolutely loved this book. It is a very powerful and emotional read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys coming-of-age stories. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gail | 2/10/2014

    " Good read, similar in some ways to The Help, but certainly more gritty. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Cassandra. | 2/9/2014

    " I suppose I would have enjoyed this book more if I had not read THE HELP, MUDBOUND, and THE KITCHEN HOUSE. Same subject in the first two and an earlier period of history in the third. They were excellent. I had difficulty connecting with the characters in THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST. I did finish reading the book, but it was not one that I could not wait to get back to. Perhaps because it was written from the point of view of a 13 year girl. I think it would have been a better read for middle school age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lisa | 2/2/2014

    " Started off very slow, but the story picked up in the second half. The book gives a glimpse into the history surrounding the south during the 1950's through the eyes of a thirteen year old. This is a quick read, but a touching story. "

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About the Author
Author Anna Jean Mayhew

Anna Jean Mayhew, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, has never lived outside the state, although she often travels to Europe with her Swiss-born husband. Much of her work reflects her vivid memories of growing up in the segregated South. She has been both production editor of a major medical journal and editor of a science fiction fan magazine. In earlier careers, she ran a court reporting agency and worked in opera management. She has been a member of the same writing group since 1987 and now leads two groups herself. She is a writer-in-residence at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities and a former member of the board of trustees of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Her credits include a book of trivia about South Carolina, a guide for medical writing, and a story in Writers of the Future, Volume I. The Dry Grass of August is her first novel.