Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: The Help

It's as good as you've heard. Maybe even better. I seriously considered calling in sick to work twice this week so I could stay home and read it. In case you've been living under a rock, The Help by Kathryn Stockett tells the story of African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s.

The story is told from the point of view of three narrators: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid whose back-talk towards her employers results in her having to frequently change jobs; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman and recent college graduate who, after moving back home, discovers that a maid who helped raise her since childhood has abruptly disappeared. The stories of the three women intertwine to explain how life in Jackson, Mississippi revolves around "the help," with complex relations of power, money, emotion, and intimacy tying together the white and black families of Jackson.

I grew up in a different generation in a very different part of the country, so the concepts in this book were absolutely fascinating to me. Of course I am aware of what life was like during the civl rights movement, but the extremely personal perspectives shown in this book gave me insight that I never really had before. And although the book is fiction, Stockett herself grew up in Jackson with "help," and I think this lends her a huge amount of credibility.

Each and every character was well-written and relatable, even the nasty ones. And I loved the way the chapters were structured, switching between narrators. The book completely sucked me in from the first page, and I felt extreme disappointment when I finished it last night... I wanted more! That being said I thought the story wrapped up nicely and I was happy with the ending. Now I can't wait to see the movie!

2 comments :

  1. Agreed! Loved that book. Can't wait to see the movie. But I'm sure it won't be nearly as good as the book...it never is!

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  2. Yeah I'm usually bummed because movies are never as good as the books, but I've heard really good things about this one so we'll see!

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