"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

My Aunt Yvonne sent this book to me and I read it in 2 days. Really, in 2 halves of days. My friend Amy had recommended it. Everything my friend Amy has recommended I jump on because she's got excellent taste in books. So I started reading.

You know how there is a certain point in a book where you say, "ah-ha! I am going to finish this book!" Well, at least, that's how I am. Usually it's in the middle somewhere. This book, it was on the first page. Specifically why: I really liked Aibileen's voice. It was fun to read a book written in a southern accent. I could hear her in my mind.

I loved the book. Great read. The epilogue, written by Stockett, made me cry. For about a second, and then I had to tend to my toddler who was whining about me not paying attention to her for half a day. I smell a movie.

She did an excellent job with the tension. I felt really nervous for the characters. I felt their worries. She really showed that well. She also did an excellent job with her setting. It felt like I was there. I could see the silver and feel the heat. Maybe this is because it was in the 80's today here in Houston. But really, she did an outstanding job with her setting.

Except for two things.

One, I was extremely disappointed at her lack of good male characters. There wasn't a single one. Seriously? I mean, I just don't believe that there were zero good men in Jackson, Mississippi at that time. All of her men were either chauvinists, bigots, unhappily married, psycho-naked-homeless, "whores" to their father's political career, oblivious, or wife-abusers. Stockett seems to have something against men in general. Oh yeah, and all of the ones with children were terrible fathers.

Two, I was also discouraged that there were zero happy female housewives. Come to think of it, there were zero happy, normal marriages, white or black! There was only one that came close, Celia and Johnny, and he was too stupid to realize that his wife had four miscarriages? And she was on the brink of leaving him because she didn't fit in with the society ladies? Okay, that's seriously not normal.

I think that those two gaping flaws in the book portray more truth about Stockett's personal biases than reality of life in Mississippi in the 1960's.

To be honest, the main story of trying to get the book published wasn't super exciting to me; The main reason I enjoyed this book was that it explored something I had literally never thought of. That, and Stockett did an excellent job with making you feel like you knew her characters. I really felt like I could see them, like I was there. Well, in a man-hating, marriage-hating version of there.

Anyway, it's a very interesting book with a fascinating theme: the relationships between rich white southern women and their poor black maids in the 1960's. I would highly recommend it!

1 comment:

  1. Eh hem... Kate, you're still not following my blog, according to your list of "Blogs I Read".

    I read this book too and I really liked it. However, I don't think I enjoyed reading Aibileen's southern voice as much as you did because I hear that accent every day at work and, to be honest, at first it turned me off to the book. After the first couple pages I had to put it off for several weeks until I got to a better, more healthy place in my life where reading the Southern accent wouldn't annoy me. After I got over that I grew to love Aibileen and her style.

    And I totally agree that there was a serious lack in normal relationships. In fact, I feel like there was a lack of kind, good characters in general aside from the maids and Skeeter. Skeeter's friends are all horrible. And I was really disappointed with the love interest.

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the story!


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