Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Review: The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Unbidden images of Gone With the Wind popped into my head and played out when I first started reading the stories of Aibileen and the other black maids, until I discovered that some of those same maids were college educated and reading classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and even some Freud. I had to stop and think, this story is in fact based in 1962, almost a hundred years since the slaves were set free. So what has happened in 100 years? According to this story, subservient slave labor is alive and well, except that these black women are employees instead of property.

The book spans the time from 1962-1964 in Jackson, Mississippi, the civil rights movement is rumbling. Almost everything is still segregated, except for the bus, "We sit anywhere we want to now thanks to Miss Parks." In the background of the story, Mississippi is featured in Life magazine twice in two months for its racial unrest, Martin Luther King is planning his big march on Washington, and President Kennedy is shot. But in the foreground are the black maids and their stories, the everyday life of these women is fascinating reading, the things they had to endure, the joys and hardships. You can tell yourself this is a fiction book, but you know deep down that these things really did happen, a sad and shameful time in our Southern history.

I really enjoyed this book, it is funny and sad and serious and suspenseful and totally believable. As I am sure the author intended, I found myself rooting for the maids and abhorring their white bosses. For such an oppressing topic, it was a thoroughly great read.


6 comments:

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Excellent review of the book! I love the image you found for "Gone With the Wind," especially the differences in the eyes of the women.

Sandra Henderson said...

Interesting how I posted about my mother in law today and how she was left w/one black and one white funeral home,etc....
What I didn't mention is that they also had "Fly", her black housekeeper, who she couldn't have done it so easily without her help and she was a wonderful friend to her....
I want to read this book, have heard so much about it. Perhaps I should order it on CD so that I can listen to it while I quilt... Thank you. XO

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great review, Susan. Sounds like a fun book to read. Wonder if they'll make it into a movie sometime???

Have a great day.
Hugs,
Betsy

Kerri said...

I always enjoy your book reviews. Sounds like a good story.
It amazes me that you find time to read so many books. I'm not finding time to read much of anything lately, but at least I've managed to read one book this summer - "Old Herbaceaous"...about an English head gardener. Our daughter brought it to me. It was a good read.
I'm having trouble believing that cursive handwriting is obsolete. So do the kids print now..or...what?
I love Simon and Garfunkle!
Also love your butterfly photo and poem. Ah yes, the beach....
Pouring rain here this morning. Hope the sun shines later. We've missed it for the past 3 days.

Stray Stitches said...

This was one of the best books I had read in a long time. Well written and the story kept you very interested. I agree with you about being on the side of the maids - I was there all of the way!

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