by Kathryn Stockett
It seems that everyone (or just about everyone) I have talked has already read this book. Okay, I was a few years behind, but oh man, oh man am I glad I finally made the time to read it. In fact I spent more time on this book than either other this summer. I wanted to relish in the character's descriptions and "their stories". I laughed. I cried. I fell in love with the compassion of some of the characters and despised the hate and cruelty depicted by others.
I can't imagine treating another human being, especially someone I have brought into my home, in the manner in which some of the "white" women were treating their "help". It just does not make any sense to me. I know times were very different in the 1960, especially in southern states like Mississippi. [Well, according to a friend (of color) times might not have changed so very much based on the treatment she and her husband ("white") experienced when driving through Mississippi about 15 years ago.] I have read books, seen movies, and heard about the civil rights movement, but this book seem to show a side I had never thought about, let alone experienced.
I was not raised in a household with any kind of domestic help. In fact this seems like a foreign concept to me, having someone come into your home to clean, cook, and raise your children. I know I am not the best at doing any of those things, but I really can't see paying someone to come into my home and do those things for me (not that I wouldn't love it on some days, like the first day of school or Thursday evenings!). I know my grandmother had a maid named Bernice. I don't really know a lot about her, in fact the only story I really remember hearing was about her drinking the cooking sherry. I couldn't even tell you her last name, what she looked like, or anything else. I don't think she was working for my grandmother after I was born. I believe there would have been a least a few pictures of her holding me. I don't think my grandmother would have fit into any of the chapters in The Help, at least I hope not. It would make me really sad.
I loved the way the chapters were written from the perspective of the different characters. There was no need for an all seeing / knowing narrator because the characters themselves could tell their story and everything about what was happening in their lives and in their work place. I really wanted to hear more of their stories. I actually wanted to read the finally book in order to really get a more rounded feel of all of the maids and their different work households. I was as encouraged by the uplifting stories of the women of the house, as I was disheartened by the villainous acts of women to their hired help.
Loved, loved, loved this book and I am anxious to see the movie. I know it will not be as good as the book (or the movie I have already created in my mind while reading the book), but I will go see it any way.
After reading this book, I know one thing is for sure... I will never be able to look at chocolate pie the same way again!