Friday, August 26, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett in Book Form

My co-worker recommended this book to me shortly after it came out, but I didn't read it until last weekend.  I wanted to read it before I saw the movie and then compare the two. I flew through this book.  I loved all the characters and found them believable.  By the end of the book, I wanted to know more about them, how their lives played out over time.  Especially Miss Celia.  Did she continue to come into her own after the snobby ladies of Jackson excluded her from their circle? 

Even though the author, Kathryn Stockett, grew up in Mississippi with a black maid, many reviews have both praised and criticized her for the way she wrote from two of the black maids' voices.   I cannot speak to this as I grew up in an area where I had very little exposure to diversity.  I found their voices believable.  I got caught up in the characters no matter from what voice it was written.

As much as I loved the story, I have two criticisms.  The author wanted to show how Miss Celia, one of the white employers, was gaining in personal and emotional strength.  So she added an episode where a random exhibitionist finds his way out to her secluded country estate.  Minny, the maid, tries to go out and scare him away while Celia calls the police.  Celia eventually comes out and fights him off showing that she isn't the lazy little mouse that she used to be.  But an exhibitionist? Really?  A burglar could have worked.  A pushy salesman.  A drunk. A dog. There were better choices for this scene.  Also, the ending for Skeeter, the white woman writing a book about the maids' experiences, was a cop out.  She got her dream job with Harper and Row in New York for writing a book about the maids. Just as things are heating up in Jackson because of her book, the maids, Minny and Abilene, give her their blessing to take the job and not stay and help through the trouble her book created.  The white lady did her Civil Rights duty, caused a much needed ruckus, and gets a "get out of jail free" card.  This was a bit too contrived for me.  

I'm not one of those people who haughtily refuses to like a book just because it's popular with the masses. I full on admit that I loved this book and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.  Can't wait to see the movie.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't put this book down. I am sorry the story had to end. Felt like I was saying goodbye to good friends. I loved the story and the characters. Hope there is a sequel. I would love to see the continuing story of Aibilene, Skeeter, Minnie, Celia, and Mae Mobley. Looking forward to the movie and hope it is as good as the book...

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