Monday, January 10, 2011

Recommended Reading: The Help

I know that I am totally one of the last people to jump on the bandwagon for this book.  I have been reading reviews and hearing people talk about it for ages, and I just haven't done anything about it.  I'd see it in the store, make some comment to whoever I was shopping with about it, but never actually pick it up.  Thankfully, Crystal remedied this as part of my Christmas! 

I read it slowly, though if I'd had time I would have devoured it in a sitting or two.  But I'm glad that I took the time to really enjoy Kathryn Stockett's style of writing.  The book is written in the voices of three distinct chracters: Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter.  The fact that Stockett does such a great job giving us a vision of how different, yet completely intertwined these women are is remarkable in itself.  (In fact, I haven't read too many that do it well, Rebecca Wells not withstanding!)  Stockett gives us characters that feel like people you've met.  If you are anything like me, you will find yourself thinking of the Skeeter, Aibileen or even the Miss Hilly in your life.  And that's before we even get to the storyline.

Most anyone with a grasp of recent history knows about Mississippi's resistence to integration in the 1960's.  As a history teacher, I've certainly done my share of reading about it as well.  The Help takes us into that world without being heavy-handed or preachy.  There's clear recognition of the ugliness of racism, but Stockett doesn't stop there.  Instead, she takes us into the heart of the matter, revealing that those who have the most interest in making others feel small or unworthy are truly just reflecting how they see themselves.  Her message that we are all just people, more alike than unalike, is a delicately delivered gut check.

I feel like giving away anything about the book would spoil it, but I will say that such a well-written book makes the stakes pretty high for the movie.  I am excited that Emma Stone will be playing Miss Skeeter, as she has quickly become one of my favorite young actresses-not-sponsored-by Disney.  I just can't say enough good stuff about this book, but don't take my word for it.  Go and read it yourself!

This was the first try at my book picture.  Needless to say I had some additional (if un-needed) help for that one!

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