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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.  Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these woman will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed."

I really enjoyed this book. It is informative, sad, heart wrenching, tender, and even has some light-hearted moments. I know this book is fiction, but Ms. Stockett does such a good job that it reads like a memoir. It is very well written and just draws you right in. It does take a little while to figure out who everyone is, and where each character fits into the story, but once you do then it's hard to put down. The stories of these women are fascinating. I really enjoyed learning about each one. It is unbelievable to me that events like these could have happened less than 50 years ago. It blows my mind. I do not know how anyone (especially women) could be so mean-spirited and hateful towards each other. I cannot imagine thinking so little of another human being, and being so hypocritical in the process. I hope that in the same situation I would be more of a Ms. Skeeter than a Ms. Leefolt. I hope I could be as courageous as these women were.

Ms. Stockett does a very good job of transitioning between characters and continuing the story line. I was concerned about the format of the book at first, but it comes together so well. I felt as if I were a part of the story. There is a lot of language in the book. Most of it is just how the characters speak, but there is quite a bit. I personally didn't mind it as much in this book because I was so involved in the story, but I do know someone who didn't like the language at all. There is also a scene with a naked man. It is quite the scene, and is offensive. I definitely could have done without it. However, it shows a side of the relationship between the two woman that could not be shown without something drastic and scary happening to them.

Overall I really liked this book. I would recommend it if you're okay with the above warning.

Rating: R (Remember, this does not correspond with the movie ratings, it's just my way of saying it is NOT for younger readers.) There is a lot of language, there is some death, there is some violence, and then there is that scene with the naked man.

Recommendation: 18 and up. This book is NOT okay for younger readers. I think it is okay to tell younger children about the basic premise of the book and use it as a teaching tool for dealing with race and treating all people with dignity. There area many lessons to be learned from this book.

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