by Kathryn Stockett
by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: A+
Set in 1960s Mississippi, The Help deals with the turmoil that was erupting between blacks and whites. Told from the points of view of 3 very different women, The Help is so much more than just a story about race. It is a story of friendship, failure, success, finding oneself, and so much more. The three women (Miss Skeeter, Aibleen, and Minny) form a very unorthodox friendship and work together to tell the story of black maids in the south. They take great risks just by being seen together, but they persevere and end up creating a work of greatness. Honestly, I’m not sure how else to describe this book without giving away too much.
Truthfully, I had no intention of reading this. It’s been wildly popular among the girls in my online book club and I’ve heard great things about it from others, too. It just didn’t seem like something I was dying to read, but I put it on hold at the library anyway. I’ve been reading so many great YA books, but I’ve been ignoring some of the adult books that I have on my TBR list. I’m SO glad that I picked this up. It was the best book I’ve read this year, and likely one of the best I’ve read in a while. It’s so different from anything that I’ve been reading lately, and that was wonderfully refreshing.
Time for a list. Some of the things I loved about it:
1) Normally, I hate the switching points of view, but this author did SUCH a wonderful job with it, that I had no problems at all with the switches.
2) The author is a white woman, but undertook the challenge of writing in a completely different voice: a southern black maid. She took a risk and it worked for her. It could have failed horribly, but it just didn’t.
3) Normally, I love novels that have very vivid settings with lots of description. The Help was a highly-character driven novel with hardly any setting descriptions at all. I don’t know why, but it worked. The characters were so vibrant that I couldn’t help but falling in love with them.
4) The author wrote about an issue that was relevant to her life, but still very foreign at the same time. Kudos to her for approaching such a tricky subject, but doing it in the right way. I didn’t ever feel like she was biased or was pushing an agenda. I think it’s a book that needed to be written. Sadly enough, even though the Jim Crow laws no longer exist, the race lines are still very much drawn. I live in the south (albeit, not as deep south as Mississippi, but still…), and I see the hatred that is still lingering in the minds of people even 50 years later.
5) Popular culture/current events: So many books try to bring in popular culture and it ends up dating them and becoming cheesy. Stockett did a great job of bringing in current events without being a nuisance. Things like the JFK assassination played a huge part in the daily lives of people in the 60’s. She did a great job of incorporating those events into the novel. Oh, and I love that she alluded to my favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird so many times. That’s a big plus right there!
6) This is Stockett’s first novel. How awesome to be such a success with your first published piece of work!
You need to go get this book, now! I honestly don’t know why I waited so long, but I’m SO glad that I read it.