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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Review: The Help

Book: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Pages: 451
Published: February 10th, 2009 by Putnam Adult

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step...
Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, raising her seventeenth white child. She's always taken orders quietly, but lately it leaves her with a bitterness she can no longer bite back. Her friend Minny has certainly never held her tongue, or held on to a job for very long, but now she's working for a newcomer with secrets that leave her speechless. and white socialite Skeeter has just returned from college with ambition and a degree, but, to her mother's lament, no husband. Normally Skeeter would find solace in Constantine, the beloved maid who raised her, but Constantine has inexplicably disappeared.
Together, these seemingly different women join to work on a project that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town -- to write, in secret, a tell-all book about what it's really like to work as a black maid in the white homes of the South. Despite the terrible risks they will have to take, and the sometimes humorous boundaries they will have to cross, these three women unite with one intention: hope for a better day.

General Overview: An enlightening, touching book. I don't normally read books like that, but I'd just heard so many good things about it that I had to -- and now I'm glad I did. It made me appreciate so many of the things in my life and the people in it.

Characters: The characterization in The Help was flawless. I connected with all three of the narrators and I hated Hilly! Jeez that woman really irritated me. I wanted to slap her in the face. The characters' each had such a distinct voice, and they were as different as different could be but yet they became friends anyway, despite social boundaries and even certain laws. I loved how deeply I was able to feel with these characters and how passionately I was able to hate some of them.

Plot: There were a few times when this book dragged, I will admit. I felt myself losing interest a couple times, but luckily Kathryn Stockett intrigued me again by throwing in a plot twist or some new atrocity that captured my attention. I was worried about how this book would end; there were a number of ways this book could've ended, but I think Stockett chose the best way for each of the narrators to end their narrations in this book.

Writing: Some of the words in this book are written phonetically, particularly the narrations of Minny and Aibileen, but I thought that added more dynamic to the book and made it more unique. I had no problem understanding it and I felt like Stockett was so able at making her characters and her ideas stand out. I could imagine what living in Jackson, Mississippi, would be like, for both whites and blacks and I didn't like it at all, I think that's the way Stockett wanted her reader to feel.

Cover: I think it's kind of passable, but its simplicity contradicts the complexity of the story and that was interesting for me. I like how there are three birds that could be interpreted as our narrators: two of them are darker, and close together on one end of the stick, while the third is pale and on the opposite end, yet you see them moving closer together. Very symbolic.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

Chelle said...

You are very perceptive about the cover. I heard Ms. Stockett speak and that was her take on it as well. However, she did say it wasn't her first choice. She wanted the picture of a black women's hands holding a white baby's hands. Wouldn't that have been powerful! But I bet this low-key cover draws in people who might not have picked it up otherwise.


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