March 12, 2010

The Help ………… Kathryn Stockett

Posted in Books I have read at 8:50 pm by A Witty Fool

I started this book on a Saturday afternoon and not only did I skip a Saturday night out, but I also ‘missed’ church on Sunday, in order to race to the finish on this book. 

The Help is set in 1962 Mississippi where the lines between blacks and whites are drawn and clearly defined. Skeeter has just returned home to with her college degree and is on the hunt for a job, but Skeeter’s mother will not rest until her daughter is safely married off.

Aibileen is mourning the death of her son while raising yet another white child and worrying about her best friend and her prayer list. Minny is a hard worker and a great cook, however, she has just lost yet another job and gained a reputation as a loud mouth, with a sassy tongue, a bad attitude and a thief. She has also come away with a secret, which she is too guilty and embarrassed to voice out loud. When Aibileen lies her way into a new job for Minny, Minny has to navigate her way around her former employer, her new employer, the lies and her embarrassing secret.

 When Skeeter begins to asks questions about the world that she had always taken for granted, these three women find their way into swapping stories and aiming for the same goal. The world around them and the people in it are exposed, as secrets are revealed and comfort zones are shaken.

The Help is an excellent read. I was a bit reluctant to even start, just because I hate to read stories based in the Deep South, from that time period. They either ignore or try to gloss over the subject of racial inequality, or they try to romanticize it by making the blacks out to be noble saints and enduring heroes (which ends up making them annoyingly pitiful), or the whites to be irretrievably wicked and unforgivably racist (which makes one (not be or course!) want to go out and bitch-slap the first white person one (again, not me of course. Lol)  sees). The Help avoids such easy over simplifications. The characters are real, neither saints nor heroes, just people dealing with the realities in which they are trapped, enduring because they have to, while still fighting back in the little ways that give each of us the strength to face a new day and change the world.

Stockett has created characters that are relatable and very human, funny and weird, interesting, courageous. Even though she is a well of, white girl, raised in a racist environment, I still kinda enpatize with Skeete, especially on the whole her mother cant wait to marry her off thing. The times they have achanged, but the only thing different about the general mindset on single females is that the acceptable age limit has been raised a bit. LOL. I love crazy ass Minny, who with all of her sassy and attitude, still lets her man push her around and loyal, faithful Aibileen, who I can just picture muttering: “cant’ we all just get along?!”

The world around them is changing in ways they do not understand and may not approve of and in their own small way, they are all trying to do something about it, for our three heroines, it is to facilitate the change, for others around them, not so much. The women relate to each other as mothers, daughters, friends and strangers, across the boundaries of race and class, as they search for strength, identity, redemption.

So beg, borrow, steal or BUY this book. It is an excellent addition to any library and I may be immature and gross, but finally hearing (or reading) Minny’s embarrassing story, made the entire book so awesome for me!

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1 Comment »

  1. sandra turchi said,

    ej, i will have to make a point to borrow this book from west end library. you gave a fine and valid critique!

    of course, i want to know her secret.

    and, boy, can i ever relate. could be my italian heritage, but i have always (from a young age) been seemingly been pressured to marry. (heh, heh: didn’t marry, though, until 43!). sandra


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