Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review: The Help

Book 21/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed:  October 5, 2011.

I feel like The Help doesn't really need to be reviewed.  I feel like this book's reputation speaks for itself and I am just predictably giving it another five-star review.

I'm sure nearly everyone who might encounter this review already knows that The Help follows the lives of several women in Jackson, Mississippi and the lives of their black maids, also known as "the help".  Somehow a book whose main issues are racism in the mid-20th century and toilets is one of the most moving books I've ever read.  I felt like I was best friends with Skeeter Phelan, Aibileen Clark, and Minny Jackson.  And Hilly Holbrook - well, I just wanted to punch that woman in the face.

I bought The Help several months ago when it had been lingering at the top of the bestseller list, and I didn't know a lot about it except that it was getting rave reviews.  And then the movie came out and I heard from stateside friends via Facebook how incredible it was.  So I decided I'd go ahead and read it finally.  I had a very hard time reading Winter's Bone and blamed it largely on the vernacular but in The Help, I loved the way the maids sections were written in their own casual (if grammatically incorrect) language.  I could hear Aibileen, Minny, and the others speaking in my ears just as clear as could be and after I'd set the book down, I found myself wanting to talk the way I'd been reading.  Fo' sho.  Law have mercy!  I don't know why this is, but I just found the maids SO endearing.  I could not get enough of them.

Skeeter Phelan crosses an "invisible line" between white and colored women and secretly befriends maids in her quest to put her newly earned degree to good use and write a book about something that bothers her and seemingly nobody else - a book from the perspective of "the help" regarding exactly what it's like to be a colored woman in the very repressed state of Mississippi.  This secret work changes the lives of nearly everyone in the community, as well as poses a huge danger to many of the maids involved and Skeeter herself.

Certainly a book worth reading, though I'm sure you already knew that.  Seriously though, sit down with this one.  It's good.  And if you're like me you'll be waiting on pins and needles to watch the movie afterwards.  It's not out here yet, so I'm about dying with anticipation.

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