Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Love Makeover: The Help

So I'm changing my Book Love format. I feel like I've been feeding you all the information you could find on any bookstore website. Time to change it up. If you want to know how much it costs, how many pages their are, etc. I'm confident you can maneuver to the Borders or Amazon website. If you want MY opinion... well... keep reading.

The Help was one of the Naughty Novelists' (that's the book club I'm in here in Indy... find us on facebook!) books for the month. And I'm woman enough to admit it, I totally cried at the end. I think that if a book is good enough to move your emotions and make you cry, then it's worth reading. It's not every day letters on a page can move you to tears.

"I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good."

The Help takes place in the Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's. And as the title describes, it's about the black help and the white women they work for. All of the main characters are female and The Help illustrates how women can be cruel and clever when they want to be, especially white women from the South. It gave me a sort of personal insight into the civil rights movement. Especially since, though I am familiar with basic history, I have never seen or experienced firsthand the type of interactions this book describes. Maybe these situations illustrated in the book weren't the best moments, or the worst, the happiest, or the most honorable, but I certainly gained perspective.

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

At times the book made me sick to my stomach-- reading how a white mother rarely hugged her own 2-year old daughter. And how it was "The Help," Aibileene who told the little girl, every single day, that she was beautiful and good. Who knows what kind of self-esteem the child would have grown up with without Aibileen in her life. In fact, we wouldn't have "The Help" to read if it wasn't for Aibileen, because it was her real-life counterpart Demetrie who was Stockett's inspiration. So although the book is fiction, it makes you wonder how honest it really is.

"We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought"

I just want to reiterate that I only write Book Love posts for books I think my readers would enjoy. And readers, you may have noticed that I like fiction books about books. Which is part of the story in "The Help." The white Miss Skeeter, is collecting stories from the maids in town. One of the stories is the "Terrible Awful," where Minny, a loveably outspoken character, does something unspeakable to the white woman who fired her. The book goes on to illustrate exactly what the Terrible Awful thing is that Minny did (unbelievable) and it sort of makes me wonder... though I don't at all doubt Stockett's imagination, what if the Terrible Awful part really is true? Some things are just hard to make up.

"And I know she ain't saying what she want a say either and it's a strange thing happening here cause nobody saying nothing and we still managing to have us a conversation."

Another admirable quality of this book is that the author is white, yet for most of the book she is writing from a black perspective. This is brave in my opinion-- probably because I'm white myself. I would love to get the opinion of others on this (part of the reason I'm in a book club!)

So sure there's a little bit of Love in The Help:
"No one tells us, girls who don't go on dates, that remembering can be almost as good as what actually happens."

And sure there's a little bit of Crazy:
"I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it."

But I think there's a lot we can learn, too:
"....we ain't doing civil rights here. We just telling stories like they really happen."

P.S. All the italicized quotes are straight from the book :)

1 comment:

  1. I actually read The Thirteenth Tale so that i could come to the meeting! but something came up and i couldnt :( If i can make it on the 25th i will! i'd love to. What book are you reading for it? Email me directions & times!