The Help

TheHelp

Publisher’s Notes:

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.
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So with deepest apologies to those friends, and there are a few, who recommended “The Help” to me,  I didn’t really love it.  Oh, I feel so badly saying this, and perhaps I’m just cranky because I have a sore throat, but I have to be honest. It wasn’t that it was bad, nor was there ever a moment when I was going to bail, but for me it was a little heavy-handed at times and the characters were either “Good” or “Bad” with so little nuance or dimension. There were two particular story components that, although I suppose were integral,  I found unnecessarily off-putting. And while I’m being entirely honest, I might as well admit I’m probably never going to love a book whose main female character’s name is “Skeeter”.  I know I’m in the minority here and judging by how great the word of mouth is on “The Help” it will probably end up on Oprah’s Book Club List and make a trillion dollars  (It’s seems obvious this is the author’s intent- I hope Oprah doesn’t choose it, there is so much better out there)   This book has “Screenplay” so blatantly written all over it, it’s bags and sunscreen are packed and sitting at the screen door.  I like novels to read like novels, not scripts.  If it happens further down the road that a book is made into a movie, well, yay- bonus for everyone but I don’t want to hear “CUT!” in my head at the end of each chapter.  Sorreeee friends-  Should I just go take a little Nyquil and go back to my bed??!

6 Comments

  1. A friend loved this novel, and will exchange with me ay our next lunch. I was not that excited even when she was telling me lightly about The Help. S. P . I really take note of your likes and dislikes when it comes to reading. I until about a yr. ago read every thing I started, not any more . Too many great reads on my bucket List. So Sorry you are “Under the weather ” Feel better soon.

  2. Re: ‘The Help’— sounds to me like Divine Secrets of Fried Green Tomatoes.
    If one is interested in great writers from the South who write about the Southern Female Psyche, may I suggest Flannery O’Connor or Eudora Welty.

    • Yes of course! Really I do. Mostly biographies and British Colonial history.
      And occasionally Self-Help books- but they never work. In fact, I think “The Help” is the first fiction book I’ve talked about- oh no, I take that back- I recommended “Stoner”. Now that’s a good book. 🙂

  3. I like the name Skeeter – maybe it is the earthiness of it – but then, I grew up on a ranch and have slapped one or two hundred of them in my time. I could have had a neighbor named Skeeter…….could be, now, well that might not be so plausible.
    I like that The Help offers a human connection between your Help, the Help and their “Plantation Owners”. Perhaps it feels real to me because it is fresh in my conscious. My parents walked with Martin Luther King. That is in my lifetime – but then I am old, real old. Today, I look around me and the urgency has been quenched but the abuse is still fresh and for many real…. crystalline- I listened and watched my grandmother, once again in my lifetime, call her “help” “N.”. I loved, love, my grandmother who still watches my life as it flows and reaches in to shake me – as she did when I read The Help – Yes, call it commercial – it is – and I am fine with that. It is accessible and points to a door or window. Not a characteristic that Oprah normally picks. The Help is our very American past that we can still reach out and touch, soooo fresh. It is accessible – It is accessible, the fear is accessible, the poverty is accessible, the hatred…well the hatred is accessible and still very real, the death, well, the death too is still real. But then I live in California and shall we talk about real?

  4. I just read your review of The Help and the comment about the woman whose parents marched with Martin Luther King. She’s right….The Help IS our past in the South. A past so real that my mother-in-law refused to either read the book or see the movie. “I know I paid my maid only $10 a week, but that’s what everybody did in the ’50’s and ’60’s.” Just like her mama did, and I’m sure her mama did. Both scenes that depicted how white women treated their maids publicly (during the Bridge game and the luncheon at Skeeter’s house) rang completely true. Even though my grandmother’s maid was her constant companion, she never once shared a meal with her. I can remember seeing Mattie standing at the sink eating her lunch, while grandmother dined alone at the table.

    The book may not be the most well-written, but don’t judge the story, Slim—-it’s all true.

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