Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'The Help': A book I just couldn't put down

My favorite thing about reading is getting into a book that is so good that I stay up all night reading it. You know it's a good book when you hear the thump of the newspaper being delivered outside and you still won't go to bed because you have 30 pages left to read.

"The Help" was that book for me this weekend.

Many of you probably know that the movie "The Help" is based on the book of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. I haven't seen the movie, and I'm guessing I will at some point, though I'm worried it will be too much of a bastardization of the story.

"The Help" is about an educated white woman who longs to be a writer - though in 1960s Jackson, Miss., her mother just wants her to be a wife. She gets the idea to tell the stories of what it's like to be the help - the black women who cook and clean and raise the children of the rich white families. But the racial tensions force Skeeter and the maids to meet secretly and cause them all sorts of problems with their families and friends.

I loved so many things about this book. Stockett chose to tell the story from three different perspectives - Skeeter, the writer, and Aibileen and Minny, two maids - which gives the novel a lot of depth. Stockett didn't just write about the women's connections to each other and how they wrote a book, but their relationships with their families, their friends, their lovers and their employers. And she somehow wrote this in a way that there weren't too many characters to keep track of. All of the characters were so vivid that I could picture each of them immediately upon reading their names. Stockett also created clear voices for each of the women, writing in different Southern dialects for each of them. I could hear Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny talking to me as I turned flipped through the pages.

I can't recommend this book enough. Get on your library's website and add yourself to the hold list (which undoubtedly exists).

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl



Blogger Helen said...

If you liked The Help check out Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. Another excellent read set in Mississippi with similar issues.

November 30, 2011 at 4:04 PM 
Blogger nhcheryl said...

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll add that to my list.

November 30, 2011 at 6:33 PM 

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