Monday, June 13, 2011

The Help

Have you seen this book? 

Seems like over the past two years, every bookstore I’ve been in I’ve seen it prominently displayed.  I've heard it's worth a read. I've thought about picking it up – it is about the South, after all. This Saturday, Sean, the girls and I were in Barnes and Noble and I finally bought it. I’d meant to get it from the library, but reminded myself I never remember to check out books for myself…

I started reading it after dinner on Saturday. I finished its 530 pages Sunday night around 11:30. It was all I could do not to read it during church. I willed myself to put it down when the girls asked me to play Clue on Sunday afternoon. When Sean asked me to take a walk I felt like I needed permission from Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny.

It was a heartbreaking, wonderful, tear-jerking, laugh-out-loud good book. Kathryn Stockett’s storytelling is fantastic. I do, however, wish the story wasn’t quite so true.

The book is set in early 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi and is told from the viewpoint of Skeeter, a white woman of privilege, and two black women, Aibileen and Minny, the help. It chronicles the events the three women experience together, told in their own voices. It’s not a pretty picture. A major plotline revolves around the insistence that blacks use separate toilets to keep their particular germs away from the pristine white hineys of the ladies of Jackson. And as disgusting as the thought is to me, I realize this is set a mere few years from the day of my birth. I may be old, but I’m not that old – how can this have happened and such a short time ago?!

I asked my cousin, Dawn, whose mom grew up in Mississippi, what she thought of the book. She and her cousins all agreed it was basically on-point. And then Dawn told me about her laundry room – “my house was built in 1957 and it had a toilet in the laundry room! It had its own door, partition and light!” Just like the separate bathrooms Ms. Stockett describes in The Help.

Oh, y’all, this is one great book. And now I can’t wait for the movie – it's supposed to be out this August.

It’s a wonderful story of friendship. I adored the women. I loved the way Ms. Stockett told the story from the three points of view. I just hated the thought that this was in our country’s history.

I highly recommend it!