Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: THE HELP

 Stars: 5/5
  Format: Used Hardcover
  Read: February 23, 2012

This book was a beautiful blend of narrative and introspection. Having grown up in the south in the '90s, I found that a lot hasn't changed much between the '60s and now. Stockett did a fantastic job portraying little southern nuances that might not make much sense to the rest of the United States. There is still female cruelness and hierarchy and it delighted me to read Skeeter's thoughts on the whole matter. It did have the Scarlet O'Hara pining and whining but included what I like to call the southern woman stubbornness of knowing who you are and not caring if that isn't accepted.

Though this book is primarily about racial segregation, it's also about family and loyalty and love and heartbreak and friendship and growing up and deciding things for yourself. Skeeter is naive and purposefully blind to the way the Help has always been treated and it's a beautiful thing to see her evolve and defy Hilly, her 'best friend' since childhood. Her adoration of the woman who raised her and her indifference to her own biological mother was so very indicative that you don't have to be related to someone to be family and the people you are related to aren't necessarily your family.

The voices were so lyrical and painfully real. Their story was heavy but filled with lightness where ever they could find it. I especially loved Aibileen and Mae Mobley because they are the perfect example of loving a child because of their differences and not despite of them. Minny's dedication to Celia even though she distrusted white women was just so honest.

If you've seen the movie, that's fine and dandy, but you have to read the book. The movie leaves out a couple of small but very key details that polish the entire story and make it bloom. There isn't a perfect happily ever after, but this is the closest book of fiction I've ever read that's come closest to that bittersweet feeling of living a hard life and moving past the bitterness and savoring the good. I do think that this will most likely become a classic because the 'realness' of it mirrors, to me, classics such as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and OF MICE AND MEN (though the Help has nothing in common aside from the presentation of the story). It is not a 'feel good' book nor is it a 'not-feel good' book. It makes you think and feel and in the end, I think that's all that a good book should do.

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