Friday, September 02, 2011

Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I hadn’t heard of this book (or the movie) and the craze about it before moving back to America. Or even really once I had moved back. Except that my cousin and aunt read it and loved it, so they told me about it and let me borrow the copy my grandma had loaned them. And then my grandma just said I could keep it because she found an extra. Sweet. So. I had the distinct pleasure of reading this well-written and engaging book.

In case you haven’t heard about this book, the general idea is that it’s a novel about white middle and upper-class women in Jackson, Mississippi and their black maids/nannies/’help’. In the 1960s. It is written from three viewpoints, alternating between the voices of two of the black women and one of the white women. It’s a great and interesting story, one that keeps your attention and keeps you wanting to know what comes next. The characters are written so well, you almost feel like you “know” them. Though there is one overarching story (which I won’t give away), there are so many characters and situations that you just get a huge spectrum of ideas and character types. Stockett’s writing is fantastic, and even though the book is 522 pages it clips right along.

I’m not sure about how accurately it represents situations between black and white women during that period (and I know there has been a fair amount of criticism as well as acclaim surrounding the book and movie. Alas, anything dealing with race relations in our country is SO messy), but at the very least it’s a great story and read. It’s funny, sad, scary, sincere, ridiculous, angering, and hope-inducing. I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t enjoyed reading it, and I too give it a strong and recommendation. Let me know what you think about it! 

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