Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review #IDontRecallWhatNumber: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Note: It's for your sake.When have I ever lied about a good book? ;)

They say you can't get any more south than Mississippi. When you say the South, I think of fried chicken, cotton fields, terrible weather and Gone with the Wind. Extreme racism wasn't on the list until The Help.

"Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children but aren't trusted not to steal the silver." To think that it was only some 50 years ago when blacks were beaten to death for using "white toilets"!

In The Help, we follow three separate women who are about to be united for one brave, dangerous cause.

When I was reading the first page of Aibileen's narrative, I knew I had to buy the book. She's a black maid in her 50's. Aibi is a kind and wise figure but doesn't feel as kind after her son died tragically.

Her best friend, Minny, is perchance the sassiest black maid in all of Jackson. She is known for her cooking... and her mouth. The former is terrific for her white employers but the latter? Not so much. Her caramel cake and fried chicken are almost as good as her sass-mouthing skills.

And then there's Skeeter who is back from college with a degree which means she's too smart for husband hunting and lo, she's too tall for Southern standards too! All she cares about, though, is to become a writer and to find out about Constantine's disappearance, her maid she grew up with.

"Wasn't that the point of the book? We're just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I thought." I may be largely displaced from that world (born in the 90's, Asian, non-American) but at the end of the day, we all have a conscience and I feel like this book is aimed at that very part of us -- the ending made me think of the sun rising out of the horizon, the birds and the trees.. as cheesy as that is.

"A winning story of courage and truth." Some stuffy people are peeved that Stockett sugar coated and glossed over most of the actual horrific events but I don't care. I'm not here for a history lesson. The author's aim is to display relationships and she did it wonderfully. I was entertained, I was moved, I laughed, I learned something, my eyes were opened -- and that proves something.

"A laugh out loud, vociferously angry must-read." Admist the serious context, this book is hella funny! I felt most of the Stepford wife-like characters in the book to be cartoonish and just plain crazy. The married women with their big hairsprayed hair and uptight smiles were ridiculous. At least, that's how I imagined them to be. When things aren't sombre and worrying, I laughed out loud at the maids' dialogue and was tickled throughout the pages by the black Southern dialect -- I don't know why but I found it to be hilarious.

The movie is good but I don't it's not all that great because there were so many inner dialogue and conflict that a movie simply cannot display. There are too many subtle points and hilarity that the movie missed though I do commend them for sticking to some important lines. And, why does Emma Stone look so bug eyed?

This book is compelling, irresistably readable. I read this at a breakneck pace because it's difficult not to be affected. This book is so full of warmth, it is hard not to feel at least something for it. If you have half a mind, I urge you to read this. ★★★★★

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