Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I'm sure you've all heard of this book or the upcoming movie starring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone. 

It is about three women living in early 1960s Jackson, Mississsippi: Aibileen, a longtime black maid who has raised seventeen white children; her outspoken friend, Minny, who is just a too opinionated for the comfort of the white ladies of Jackson to employ her as their maid; and Skeeter, a white girl, a recent college grad and aspiring writer, who wants to write about Jackson and its people--but from the perspective of the help. 

I've only just gotten up to the part where Skeeter begins her project by interviewing Aibileen and Minny, but with three different narrators and a beautifully written and detailed narrative--you can literally read the different voices these women have--it's a surprisingly gripping read. Kind of reminds me of The Secret Life of Bees a little bit, but the similarities are really just that it's Southern, the '60s, and about relations between white and black people. 

Entertainment Weekly had a cover story last week on the film, the book, and the reaction to both, since the author is a white woman who grew up in Mississippi and was raised largely by an African-American maid. 

I knew the book was selling a lot, that it was very popular, but I don't often read a lot of more recent fiction and in particular, I don't necessarily read a lot of popular fiction. It's not a literary snobbery thing, only that there is only so much time to read--time that I could be spending writing, of course. 

But reading is important, too. It lets me get of my head and jump into someone else's for a while and see how much more I can improve, how much more in depth I can become. 

Any of you read The Help yet?

Edited to add: I finished it. Loved it. Cried at a few parts. 

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