Saturday, February 2, 2013

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, was one of those super popular books that actually stood up to its hype.  It was the most interesting book I've read in a while.

While it wasn't always page-turning, it engaged me completely.  I loved the interesting perspectives, the harsh historical details, and the completely foreign setting.  I loved rooting for the good guys.  Parts were absolutely heart-rending, especially the pain these maids faced, practically raising white kids, loving them, but all the while waiting until they turn into their prejudiced mothers and fathers.

Some people have complained that the book misrepresents the time, the area, the people.  I'm not from the South, so I don't know.  I grew up in a small town in Arizona, where I was never aware of much White-Black tension, though maybe I was just naïve.  I also wasn't born until a while after the sixties.  So I'm not really qualified to speak to the matter, but I feel that it was handled well.  Neither the maids nor their employers in The Help were all saint or sinner.  And while the situation in Jackson (and other places) was ugly in the 60s, I don't think it's something we should ignore.  Prejudice and bigotry are by no means dead, and the more empathy we can have with each other, regardless of race, social position, politics, gender, nationality, sexuality, religion, lifestyle, etc., etc., the better.

As for the dialect, that's been called racist too, especially since the Whites didn't drawl on paper.  I'm really sorry if people took it that way, but I thought it was really well done.  It wasn't distracting and hard to decipher, as I find much dialect in writing.  I could really hear the characters' voices.

I watched the movie after the book.  While it's a good movie, it can't compare to the book (of course, what movie can?).

Great premise.  Great details.  Great writing.  Great job, Kathryn Stockett.

My rating:  5

Click here to buy The Help.
Click here to learn more about Kathryn Stockett


  1. I also loved the book. I'm reading it a second time, something that I rarely do.
    I did grow up in the 60's, but in Utah. We didn't have the serious racial problems, but I do remember most of the historic incidences in the South that Kathryn Stockett talks about.
    The book was very well written, and I could also hear the characters. I thought that Skeeter and Aibileen were both wonderfully written.
    A very important book!
    It would be interesting to visit Jackson, Mississippi today and see how much has changed.

  2. Some say that if everyone totally ignored the race issue, then it would go away on its own.