The Help by Kathryn Stockett has been lauded throughout the blogosphere and bookstores as one of the best books of 2009. It has been on the best selling list since its release in February of this year. In fact, it was slated to come out in paperback, but this date was pushed back due to the generous sales in hardcover that have yet to slow down.
You might have been able to tell by some of my reviews lately that I am sometimes hard on books, especially when I hear such rave reviews and am less than crazy impressed. But I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Help and agree with it being one of the best of 2009.
A quick summary for those of you who haven't read it a million times already (hehe)... The book takes place in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights era. Minny and Aibileen are two African American maids that work for yuppy/junior league society women. One of the women, "Skeeter" Phelan, is more forward thinking than the other women and takes the injustices of the civil rights into her own hands by deciding to write a book about it. She enlists the help of Aiblieen and Minny to gather stories from many different maids in the community. Meanwhile, she writes the book anonymously without deluging the town because of the unrest and controversy she would start.
The Help is told from three narrative points of view; Minny, Aibileen, and Skeeter. The characters are immediately engaging and maintained my interest throughout the book. The storyline was well paced and put together as well. Seeing as how I wasn't alive in the 1960's, and even if I were, my family was not the kind that had maids of any race or ethnicity, I was appalled at the way in which these women were treated. What makes it worse is that the white women actually believed they were being nice and/or were doing their maids a favor by treating them what they thought was kindly. As I said in my Sunday Salon post after I finished this, " it [definitely] roused some passionate feelings in me about race, prejudice, ignorance, and hypocrisy." This is a book that has stayed with me and that I will share with others and read again. It makes you think a little about social injustices, how far we've come, and yet how far we have to go.
I do have to mention that I didn't care for the ending. It wasn't awful but I would have liked it better if some certain things had been different. Also, I'm unsure how I feel about the fact that this story is very similar to the author's upbringing. I truly disliked the majority of the "employers" in this book and wonder how much of this story was true to the author's own life experiences. But regardless, the author did do a good job in both the writing of this book and in telling the story.
This is also the only book I have yet to read from the Fall Into Reading Challenge!
Welcome to Take Me Away!!
Hello! Thanks for stopping by Take Me Away, where I review books of a variety of genres. My favorite genres are literary and contemporary fiction, though I also enjoy some mystery/thrillers. I also enjoy sociological and psychological non-fiction. Check out the tabs across the top to navigate the site. All the reviews on this site are categorized by title (fiction or non-fiction) or by author. Check out the "About Jenny" section to learn a little more about me. Thanks again for stopping by, and feel free to leave a comment even if it's just to say hi! =)