Monday, May 17, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett *Review*

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't

Reserving a book at the library just because numerous book blogs rave about it is usually- for me- a recipe for disaster. The book gets set up in my head to be a fantastic life altering tome. reading it is usually deflating and disappointing.

While I wouldn't say The Help was disappointing, I would say it was not near what I hoped it would be, although I do think it would make an excellent choice for book clubs.

Prejudices. The Help is full of them. Set in the south in the 1960's, slavery is no longer permitted. But similar to slaves, the black servants and housekeepers of the well-to-do housewives who employ them are treated just as bleakly.

I was really naive to believe that in the 6o's- the decade of peace and love- the attitudes towards blacks were better then this. I knew blacks were still segregated to a certain extent but the ignorance and small mindedness of the families featured in this story was unbelievable.

Bathrooms being built in garages or outside for the help so diseases wouldn't be caught from them sickened me. These were the housekeepers who cleaned their homes and raised their children and yet were considered unclean themselves. How degrading it must have felt for them to be viewed as no better than animals.

And the prejudices didn't stop there. Minnie's white boss deals with prejudices of her own, being misjudged because of where she lived or what she wears.

Skeeter decided to take on prejudices by writing a book about it and opening the eyes of the town in which she lives.

The Help was an eye-opener for me, and for that it deserves a higher rating in my book then I would normally have given it. I didn't love-love it, but it was an excellent story and one worth my time as well as yours. 3/5 Stars

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