Monday, February 9, 2009

{ The Help by Kathryn Stockett }

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Where do I begin?

When I received the book in the mail two weeks ago, I was thrilled. As with any other new book that I first set eyes on, I get that tingly feeling inside knowing that I have a whole new story to dive into, but I was not prepared for the journey I was about to embark on.

Set in Stockett's native Jackson, MS, in the early 19060s, this first novel adopts the complicated theme of blacks and whites living in a segregated South. A century after the Emancipation Proclamation, black maids raised white children and ran households but were paid poorly, often had to use separate toilets from the family, and watched the children they cared for commit bigotry. In Stockett's narrative, Miss Skeeter, a young white woman, is a naive, aspiring writer who wants to create a series of interviews with local black maids. Even if they're published anonymously, the risk is great; still, Aibileen and Minny agree to participate. Tension pervades the novel as its event are told by these three memorable women. Is this an easy book to read? No, but it is surely worth reading. It may even stir things up as readers in Jackson and beyond question their own discrimination and intolerance in the past and present.

One thing that draws me to a book is the author's ability to tell the story in such a way that I find myself not as a reader but as a part of the story, it's like I'm in the background following these women around and watching everything they do and say, I can smell the scents and hear the sounds and feel their emotions. Kathryn Stockett has done just that, and furthermore she has taken me on a journey of learning, through times and places before my birth, through an era where the lines between white and black were so deeply drawn.....and she has taught me SO much, much more than I've ever learned from a book.

I've come away with a sense of understanding and respect for the "Help". The black maids that spent their lives working for white families, raising their children, being paid very poorly being subjected to insult and ridicule and thought of as diseased, to the point where separate bathrooms were built so that they would not use the same ones the family did.

This amazing book has stirred some very strong emotions in me, it's made me stop and think and it's made me aware of the hardships that so many had to endure.

The story is told by 3 different women, Miss Skeeter who is a white young woman aspiring to be a writer. She decides to tell the story of the colored people through their eyes, knowing just how dangerous it could be for them all. Then there is Aibileen, by far my favorite character in the book, I cried and I laughed with her, it was like she became a part of my family, I couldn't wait to read more and hear more about her.
And finally there is Minny, a take no nonsense maid, strong woman just trying to survive and provide for her family.

It's not everyday that I grab a book and read it cover to cover with a kleenex in my hand, dying for the book to end so I can see what happens but equally distraught because I don't want these characters to leave, I want to stay right there immersed in their history and their lives and learning more.

If there is one book that you need to read this year, THIS is it. I promise you will not be disappointed, but be prepared for it will evoke some very strong feelings inside you and it will change hearts and minds wherever it's experienced!

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.
This is Kathryn Stockett's first novel and I for one am so glad to have had the opportunity to read it, she delivers an outstanding and beautiful story. From the dialogue, to the way she weaves the storytelling from one woman to another, to the perfect dialect, there is nothing about this book that I didn't love.

I don't think I can say enough about it, I urge you to pick up a copy and read it....I highly recommend it. A Masterpiece!

6 comments:

Bonnie said...

Oh oh oh ! I can't wait to get my hands on this book ! It sounds like something I will love !!!

autumnesf said...

This sounds great - thanks for the review!

Sadly, some of those attitudes are still more than alive and well in our country.

Allie Z said...

Thanks for the great review!

The other day you mentioned that you were looking forward to receiving your next book for review... Is this something you do "on the side"? I have seen a few blog postings on book reviews, I've pursued the companies, but I've never heard back. Just curious. Maybe you can't divulge? :) You can always just email me back freebieallie at gmail

~Allie

Raggedy Girl said...

Heading over to Amazon to add it to my wish list. I have got to read more!
Roberta Anne

Susanne said...

This sounds like a wonderful book Sandra and what a well written review.

gail@more than a song said...

I think I saw this mentioned somewhere else...but didn't realize it took place in Jackson, MS! That's my state so I guess I should check on getting this one sometime!