Oct 19, 2011

The Help

Book: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 stars

Quick overview: This book focuses on three very different women living in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. Skeeter is a white college graduate, looking to use her degree, while her mother is looking for a man who will marry her. Aibileen is an older black maid, who is raising her seventeenth white child, trying not to get attached to avoid the inevitable heartbreak later, if she leaves the family. Minny is Aibileen's younger friend - also a black maid, but full of sass, which makes it hard for her to keep a job. These women are in completely different places in their lives but their stories weave in and out, intwining over and over until they all join together for something they want (and hope) to be bigger.

I find the hardest book reviews for me to write are the stories I love the most. It's difficult for me to pin down where I want to start and what I want to talk about, because there were so many good things in the book. I want you to like it as much as I did and I get nervous I won't convey the great-ness of the story.

I loved this book.

This is what my book club chose this month, and while I was interested, I was also a little nervous to read it. If a book is talked about enough to where it is classified as "popular" fiction, I tend to not like it. I go in with a lot of expectations and then get disappointed when I can predict what happens or the writing isn't good. (Don't believe me? Try this. Or this). So I purposefully didn't find out anything about this book before I started it. A couple people told me I might have a hard time getting into some of the chapters because the author wrote how people would talk, but otherwise I just picked it up one night and began to read.

From the opening page I was hooked.

I didn't have any problems getting into it, and I was laughing, crying, gasping, and cheering out loud throughout the story. I was just so....involved, right from the beginning. The characters in this book are courageous, and funny, and oh so wonderful, each in their own ways.

And the writing? Phenomenal. I kept marking different quotes to share, and coincidentally enough, these were all from different Aibileen chapters.

"Cause that's the way prayer do. It's like electricity, it keeps things going (pg 23)...And Miss Skeeter asking don't I want to change things, like changing Jackson, Mississippi, gone be like changing a light bulb." (pg 24)

"That's all a grit is, a vehicle. For whatever it is you rather be eating." (pg 283)

"The summer rolls behind us like a hot tar spreader." (pg 294)

Aren't those analogies wonderful?

Unfortunately, this is one of those novels where I can't tell you specific parts I liked because it will give away facets of the story. Not that it's a big mystery, but it really ebbs and flows well, and I wouldn't want to be responsible for disrupting that for you.

I read the note from the author in the back though (another sign this book was good - normally when I finish a book I'm finished, I don't read anything else past the last page), and I enjoyed reading about her hesitation and development of writing as these characters. She's from Mississippi, but wrote this when she was living in New York - and all the different opinions and expectations she ran into during that time were great insight to hear about.

"Mississippi is like my mother. I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person who raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too." (pg 450)

I can't recommend this book enough. Borrow it, buy it, but somehow, take the time to read it. 

Have you read The Help? Did you like it as much as I did or was it not your cup of tea?

Happy hump day!

(Photo: but does it float via ffffound!)


Annie said...

Yes! Read it, loved it and saw the movie with my book club. BEAUTIFUL! And, the movie followed the book so well - another thumbs up!

Eh, I am reading The Hunger Games now at the recommendation of SO many people. I can't really get in to it. I prefer non-fiction and this seems "young." It is for our December book club so I'll finish it, but not sold, yet.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I have read the book and I loved it! It's such a great book!! It was the 2nd book our bookclub read. We had one of our best conversations after reading it. I have yet ot see the movie, but will see it eventually!

tessica said...

So glad you liked it! And those were great quotes you picked out!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

This book is wonderful, isn't it??! I went to a signing with Kathryn Stockett and she's amazing in person too - so funny!
I'm glad you liked The Help! I completely agree with your review! ;)

PS: You didn't like The Hunger Games! You may be the first person to say that! I'm shocked!

Gracie said...

I can't believe I haven't read this yet! Everyone who has read it has all good reviews!

Lucy The Valiant said...

I cannot WAIT to read this book!

Amber said...

I LOVED this book! I haven't seen the movie yet but I want to!

Stephany said...

You have no idea how much I loved that book. I was writing a review about it but it got rather lengthy, ha! I mean, I still stop when I read or hear something that reminds me of this book and I just get sad that Aibileen, Minnie, and Skeeter aren't a part of my life anymore. I actually get melancholy about it!

Anytime I'm out to breakfast with my mom and she orders grits, I can only think of Minnie and what she said about it, hehe. Funny you made that one of your stand-out quotes. :)

I just loved the book. It's magnificent, brings about so many key issues. The movie is also just as good. I'm not one to like one over the other but they are both equally fantastic.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I really enjoyed reading it. I put it off for about 5 months before I read it and then devoured it in a weekend.

Erin said...

I adored The Help on so many levels, but it didn't quite reach 5-star level for me. I felt like the book was on fire and then...just burned out at the end. Still one of my faves though.

thobeka said...

I haven't read the book, but saw them movie on Monday night and truly loved it... I had a headache from crying so much. I really want to read the book now!

Tanya said...

I haven't read this yet, but have seen so many good reviews - hopefully it will be in from the library soon!

Darcie said...

I absolutely loved this book and am thrilled that you loved it too. I feel the same way about it and find that it was so hard to put into words how good this book is. I can't wait to see the movie too!

Lucy said...

I've heard the film is good but I bet the book is better. Definately going to take your recommendation and put this on my to-read list :)

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