I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I often can’t help myself.  The cover art is there for a reason – to appeal to a certain demographic and to people who like a certain kind of book.  In the case of THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST by Anna Jean Mayhew, though the cover is beautiful, I think it falls short of depicting the captivating novel within.  The cover makes it look a sweet, southern family drama.  The reality is SO much more.  This debut deserves high praise.  It took the author 18 years to write and should follow THE HELP as a book all book clubs will want to get their hands on.  I am pleased to showcase THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST in today’s debut spotlight and am very much looking forward to moderating a talk with the author this coming weekend at The Decatur Book Festival!

Here’s a brief synopsis:

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.

The Reviewers Say:

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 (author of The Last Girls)

The angst and ennui of a young girl on the brink of her teenage years recall classics like Carson McCullers’s THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING; fans of that powerful novel of the South, along with THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES and THE HELP, will surely embrace this heartfelt novel.

— Bronwyn Miller, Bookreporter.com

All Things A.J.:

Wanna know more about Anna Jean, visit her website at http://www.ajmm.net