Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review: The Help

I'm going to start right out and say that if you haven't already read The Help by Kathryn Stockett, go get it. Right now.

I had heard people mentioning it for nearly a year when I finally picked it up at Borders last fall. It's a hefty volume and I was preparing myself to settle into the book for a while, but I finished it in less than two days. I brought it home to my mom over Thanksgiving and she finished it in time for me to pass it on to my stepmom before I returned to Austin. I just got it back from her a week ago because it was passed around a few more times. I love it when books garner that kind of excitement. You can almost feel the enthusiasm of readers as it has been passed from one eager reader to another.

So back to the book itself. The story is told from the perspective of three different women who live in a Southern community in the 1960s. One is a young, white, college graduate, who is struggling to find her way in a world that expects her to marry and quietly slip into the mold of perfect wife, mother and Junior Leaguer. The other two women are black housekeepers, who are best friends, but quite different from one another. One has raised over a dozen white children in her life and clearly does so with a great deal of love and steady affection. The other has trouble keeping her mouth shut and has recently lost her job because of it and has trouble finding new work. The three courageous women find themselves banded together in a secret mission that could be devastating to all of them if it was revealed.

Although parts of the book are heart-breaking and extremely maddening, overall, it is a feel good story. I think it is to Stockett's credit as a writer that she deals with a topic such as racism with such grace and humanity. The Help is as funny as it is difficult, and left me with thoughts of hope and gratitude.

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