The first paragraph of BookPage's review for The Dry Grass of August immediately caught my attention:
When a new novel gets compared to some of the biggest hits of the last 10 years like The Help and The Secret Life of Bees, its author has some awfully big shoes to fill. Throw in comparisons to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and the stakes are raised so high that readers may be skeptical that any book could be so good.
Happily, reviewer Stephenie Harrison goes on to write that "reading is believing" and "Anna Jean Mayhew’s debut novel deserves all the early praise it’s getting."
Set in 1954, The Dry Grass of August is about a 13-year-old girl who travels to Florida with her family and Mary, their black maid. Harrison writes: "As the trip progresses, it gets harder to ignore the color of Mary’s skin. In the wake of a violent and hateful crime, Jubie is exposed to injustice and intolerance of which she had been blissfully unaware, and hairline cracks in the Watts family shatter open, bringing shameful secrets to light."
The April print edition of BookPage also includes an interview with Anna Jean Mayhew, who is a 71-year-old debut author. You can read an extended Q&A on BookPage.com, in which the author tells us how she stayed passionate about a project for 18 years; why she chose to write about race relations in the South of the 1950s; and how she feels about using the "N" word in historical fiction. It's a very interesting interview and I'd recommend you check it out.
The Dry Grass of August is on sale today—do you want to read it? (Here's another point in the novel's favor: It retails for only $15!)