The Help by Kathryn Stockett...a review
I have fallen in love with The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I would place it below Unbroken as my top read in the last year, and just above, maybe a tie for second, with Cutting for Stone. I was impressed with the story and the writing from the very beginning. I remember reading a few reviews that were negative simply because the author is a white woman who wrote from three character perspectives before and during the advancement of the Civil Rights movement in the south: one well-off white woman whose family owned a small plantation, and two black maids who worked for white families. I think it is easy to imagine what the reviews said. I say, ignore reviews that limit someone's ability to write based on the color of their skin. I thought moving beyond color identifiers was actually the definition, and the point, of equal rights. Some people believe that the vernacular spoken by the maids was insulting. I think this is a ridiculous statement given the positions forced upon the maids as dictated by the time frame, in an extremely unforgiving location for equal rights.
Stockett grew up in Jackson, Mississippi which is the same setting as The Help. While you may not have facts about Jackson pouring out of you, I'm sure you can recognize the state of the town's people as they "lived with Jim Crow"; the rules and regulations about blacks and whites living together, separately. I believe Stockett captured the sentiments of each character she portrayed. Minny, a maid with a handful of kids and an abusive husband, was unable to hold back her thoughts in a time that demanded she do so or bear the consequences. Abeline, a soft-spoken maid raised children over and over for various white families but lived with the irony of not being allowed to use their bathrooms. And Skeeter, a young white woman who wants to be a writer, while everyone in her life, just wants to see her married.
Stockett does an amazing job at interweaving the lives of these three women, in addition to the expectations of the rest of the towns' people. I want to see a mini series of this book on HBO or Showtime, where it would be done right, and I could spend more time with the characters. I would love to learn what happens next in their lives.
Great story! Great writing! Great Book! Read it!
P.S. It only cost me $10 at Costco!