Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Synopsis: Three women in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi couldn't possibly be living more different lives. Aibileen, a black maid and nurse for the white Leefolt family has raised seventeen white children. Skeeter, a twenty-two year old white woman returns home after graduating from college to discover that life in Jackson is not what she once thought. And Minny is another black maid and mother of five known for her wonderful cooking and mouthy attitude. These women decide to work on a project so socially offensive, that it literally endangers their lives. This is the story of each of these women, their work together and the strange kinship that blooms between them.
Readability: Not the easiest read. The dialect is challenging, to say the least, and this book is surprisingly long. Or maybe it just felt that way since there were so many words on every single page. (If you read it, you will understand exactly what I mean.)
Predictability: We know what happens in the South in the early sixties, we know how race relations were in Jackson, Mississippi at that time, but that is ALL that is predictable. I was so drawn in and so in love with each of the characters, that it was as if they were real, and just like in real life, you just never know what's around the corner.
Couldn't Put it Down Factor: Here's the thing. This book is completely heart-wrenching. Every word tugs at your heart. It was so intense at times that I longed to put it down just to get a break, only to spend the time I wasn't reading, thinking about what I was missing. To me this is the mark of a truly wonderful novel: it feels as if it lives and breathes on its own, and when you put it down, you are taking the chance of missing something.
Recommend it?: Y.E.S. Hands down, one of the best books I have read in a long time. Perhaps ever. And I've read a lot of books. This novel was gentle, delicate, gut-wrenchingly sad, at times laugh-out-loud funny, and the kind of thing you fall in love with so deeply that you want to wrap it up and protect it under your coat. I admit, I have a thing for historical fiction, but the way Stockett has woven these women's lives together, yet kept them completely separate is, I believe, something to behold. I cried, I laughed, I feared for their lives and safety, I celebrated their victories, and was completely drawn into Southern culture with all the intensity of a Mississippi summer and surprise one-liners of an author who knows we need a break, even if it's only for just a second.
Five out of five stars. No question. I would read it again if I thought I could handle it. Clean language and some violence, though not graphic.
Go out and get it today. Do not stop. Do not pass go.


The Smackeys said...

I LOVED, loved, loved this book too! I was going to recommend it to you a while ago when I saw you were looking for something under your "currently reading" section. But I forgot. Glad you found it anyways!

carole said...

Sounds like a great book. I wish I had more time to read. I am definitely putting it on my list.

I always recommend "Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea" by Tommy Thompson (not that Tommy Thompson!) It is a true story and I found it just so fascinating. The first third of the book is about the USS Central America, a sidewheel paddle steamer lost in a ferocious hurricane. The rest of the book is about the scientific approach Thompson took looking for the wreck (and the gold it carried from the California goldmines), and of course, the amazing realization that they had found it. The last part of the book is about recovering the gold, and about all the people and companies who came out of the woodwrok, trying to claim their share of the gold. A truly fascinating book.

Anonymous said...

Erin, have you ever tried to get work as a freelance reviewer? You're awesome!

Laurie S.

Julia said...

agreed, great book! i didn't notice the dialect, maybe because i'm from the south :)