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~ Kathy M.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Recent Reads: "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

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Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

"The Help"
by Kathryn Stockett
c. 2009

For once, I am reviewing a book that you can actually go to Walmart and buy right off the shelf, instead of hoping you will find a copy at the library book sale for a dollar.  I think it cost me $12.00, and boy, was it worth every single penny.

Once again, I haven't seen the movie by the same name.  At least I have seen the trailers of it on the t.v. commercials.  (I am always behind the times in the entertainment department.)  I wanted to see "The Help" someday.  It looked fun.  Now, however, I'm not so sure that I do, because I don't see how it can be as good as the book. If you have read the book and seen the movie both, what did you think? 

To tell the truth, I didn't even realize that there was a book until that fateful day at Walmart.  I didn't know what the thing was really about, except that it had something to do with housekeepers.  After I bought the book, I kept myself in the dark, not reading any of the reviews or blurbs in the front or on the back cover.  I could just tell it was going to be a good book, but did not want to form any opinions prior to getting started. 

Enough about me and my book selection process.  This book is soooo good!  Going into it without expectations, I was surprised about how deep it was.  I did not want to put it down, and I finished it quickly.  The story held enough tension that you want to find out what happens, but it does not make you dread what might.  Many times I was laughing out-loud; not so much at entire scenes but by individual thoughts. 

Set in the early 1960's in Mississippi, Skeeter graduates from college and moves back into her parents home in Jackson.  Plopping back into the rich group of young society women who she went to high school with, she looks for something else to fill her time besides playing bridge and going to Junior League functions.  As one thing leads to another, Skeeter gets the idea to interview the black maids of white families and put her findings into a book.  During this time of erupting racial unrest, the book must be written in secrecy. 

Besides Skeeter, there are two other main voices in "The Help", maids Aibileen and Minny.  They tell of their families, the families they work for and those they used to work for.  In the writing of their joint project, each of the main characters gain confidence and change in their own way. Readers are reminded that we all have a story, and everybody's story needs to be heard. 

I don't see why "The Help" couldn't be used as literature in high school classrooms.  There isn't cussing nor sex, but it gives valuable insight to what things were like during that time period. 

So, if you get the chance, yes, please read this book.  I give it two thumbs up and am keeping this one, putting it right along side "The Secret Life of Bees" on my bookshelf. 

~ Kathy M.

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Dawn Malone said...

I absolutely LOVED that book! I read it in three days (including one 30-hour Amtrak ride) which is probably a record for me since I'm a slow reader. I was amazed at how pitch-perfect the dialogue was. I suspected that Stockett had to have grown up in that environment to get the dialect so perfect, and sure enough she was. I have not read the 'Bees' book, but now it's on my TBR list.

Linda Reeder said...

Well, the Secret Life of Bees is a prefect shelf companion!
I loved this book, and even got my husband to read it, and he liked it too, and he usually reads non-fiction history, or English mysteries.
We also saw the movie, and like you, we were concerned that it would not be as good. But it was very good. The movie stayed very true to the book, and it was so well acted that it was wonderful to see these characters come alive. We did think that since the movie had to tell it all in two hours it did leave out bits that would have made it more difficult to get the full impact if one had not previously read the book.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I've been wanting to read this! Glad to hear you liked it so much. I will wait to see the movie until after I read the book, but you're right, so often the movies are no where near as good as the books!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Dawn, glad it kept you company on that train ride. I know what you mean by the dialect, especially Aibleen's. I'm sure that you will adore The Secret Life of Bees too.

Linda, I am happy to know that the movie is excellent. Now I am looking forward to watching it.

Kathy, I know that you will love it. I like to read books first when I can.

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