Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Paperback: 530 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Published date: 2009
FTC: I bought at Sam's Club

My friend and I were supposed to read this book together and then watch the movie which was coming out on DVD.  I totally failed and didn't read it when I should have.  I am promising my friend that the NEXT time we do this I PROMISE to read it when I should.

For those who have been in a deep dark hole and haven't heard about The Help:

Back of the book:

Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, raising her seventeenth white child. She's always taken orders quietly, but lately it leaves her with a bitterness she can no longer bite back. Her friend Minny has certainly never held her tongue, or held on to a job for very long, but now she's working for a newcomer with secrets that leave her speechless. And white socialite Skeeter has just returned from college with ambition and a degree but, to her mother's lament, no husband. Normally Skeeter would find solace in Constantine, the beloved maid who raised her, but Constantine has inexplicably disappeared.

Together, these seemingly different women join to work on a project that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town -- to write, in secret, a tell-all book about what it's really like to work as a black maid in the white homes of the South. Despite the terrible risks they will have to take, and the sometimes humorous boundaries they will have to cross, these three women unite with one intention: hope for a better day.

My thoughts:

I'll admit that I too agree that this is a very well written book and I fell in love with the characters.  The chapters alternate points of view between Skeeter, Minny, and Aibileen giving a much wider perspective than if it was just through one character's eyes.

That said -- and I'm not sure if it's the movie's trailers (I haven't seen the movie yet) -- but it feels a little too "and they all live happily ever after" to me.  A little bit as if history was painted over just a tad - that beautiful yellow on the cover.  I mean these ladies weren't just risking their jobs to write this "tell-all" but they were risking their and everyone else's lives!  To Kathryn Stockett's credit, the book does bring up that risk -- it just seems a little too glossy.  Again - this could just be my thoughts from watching the trailer where racial segregations seems to all come to an end with a nice big hug at the end of a two minute trailer.

That said --- it is a very accessible book about the subject.  I can totally see how this would make an excellent conversational book for a book club or even just a couple friends to discuss.  It is a very very well written book and I was completely engrossed the whole time.

I kept thinking of a past book I had read that takes place in Jackson, Mississippi during the same exact time period -- only this book is through the eyes of a white girl who's dad participated in the Klan.   The book is The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin (my review).  If you've read The Help and are interested about the time period and subject matter, I recommend you try The Queen of Palmyra.  It's darker but seemingly more realistic.

More thoughts:

Even though I haven't seen the movie, I am thinking that it was beautifully cast because I totally pictured these as the characters (from the movie website):




Also Reviewed by:

Fyrefly's Book Blog

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