Saturday, March 5, 2011

Minding Ben by Victoria Brown

This is a novel about slavery in the 1990s. I'm serious. Slavery. Only it doesn't take place on a southern plantation, however, but in a Manhatten apartment. The slave, the heroine, Grace, is not brought on a slave ship against her will either. She comes via airplane from Trinidad and she willingly enslaves herself. This is what I had a problem with more than anything. I personally, would rather live an uneventful life in a cottage by the sea than enslave myself. Anyways, Grace agrees to work as a "nanny" for this snotty white family for a lousy two hundred bucks a week.

She minds Ben, bathes Ben, feeds Ben, cooks Ben dinner, cooks his parents dinner, irons their shirts, does their laundry, carries their grocery bags, mops their floor, allows them to dock her pay despite the fact she works more hours than she is supposed to and doesn't say a thing, I can go on.... I realize that Grace is illegal and seeking sponsorship, but give me a break! To make matters worse, her slaving away doesn't end with her white employers. On her days off, she lives with this chick named Sylvia and does whatever Sylvia tells her to do while she sits on her fat a**. She takes care of Sylvia's kids, cleans Sylvia's apartment... Good gawd!

Normally books with weak, submissive, docile heroine show the heroine growing some balls by the end of the book.. Not so, Minding Ben. I could not believe it. When she is basically booted out of the job over the stupidest stuff, she thinks to herself as she gathers her things, "What they could have done was filed my imigration papers, or told me they were moving, or not paid me forty dollars less for taking last Friday off. I was so tempted to tell him these little things that they could have done, or to ask him what specifically he was offering to do, but all I said was, "Thanks, Mr. Bruckner."

The girl never grows any balls, never speaks up for herself, never gives a piece of her mind..

Top that off with awful speech habits... First of all, I get that most of the people Grace hangs with are immigrants and their English is less than perfect, but to have every character at all times practically speaking like this, "Ah, what you chat 'bout? Me bet say you look better than any woman what sit down in there right now...."

I'm not kidding. I typed that word for word and most of the conversation in the book is like that. It's too much. I had to re read sentences over and over to figure them out half the time.

I didn't like this one. Two stars.

I received this ARC from the publisher and I'm sorry I didn't like it. Quotes may be slightly different in the published book.

1 comment:

  1. I actually liked this book. Yes, I got very frustrated that Grace wouldn't stand up for herself, but I'm not sure I would have when I was her age, especially knowing I could have been booted out of the couuntry. But also when I was her age, I probably would have been so fed up I eventually would have told someone off despite the consequences.

    At least in this one, Ben, the child she was caring for, wasn't a spoiled, obnoxious brat as are the children is some of the nanny books. Too bad his parents were! I liked Slyvia despite (or perhpas partially because of) all her flaws. And I liked reading the island accents. I guess that's why there are so many books -- something for everyone!