The Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading this book made me think about the women who helped care for my extended family as I was growing up. In some cases they were daily maids, in others once or twice-a-week cleaners; they were all black. We lived in the Northeast, not the South, and I'd like to think that we treated them better than some of the women in The Help treated their maids.
I was glad that all types of women were shown here, not just convenient stereotypes. The men, on the other hand, were less well defined and sometimes appeared to be out of central casting. The real life events that occur appear to be almost at a distance - the quiet after Kennedy is shot, the March on Washington, the integration of Ole Miss seemed to be casually dropped in as though to say "here, this took place in real time, in a real way". Only a few of the blacks gave voice to rage against what was going on around them.
The three central characters, Miss Skeeter, Minny and Aibileen, and the risks they took to make the book were almost real people, until the end. While the book doesn't give them a completely happy ending, it does end with something of a hopeful note. For some reason, that bothered me. The other thing that bothered me was the way in which the Minny and Aibileen sections were written, in what I suppose today we call a "black accent". I've never been a fan of books written that way. Dialog is one thing, but the rest of it? I find it annoying.
I'm glad our Book Club chose this book and look forward to our discussion!
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