06 March 2010

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I loved this book. My sister-in-law's sister-in-law (or brother-in-law's sister, whichever way you want to look at it) recommended it to me, and as soon as she mentioned it I realized it was one of the many books on the shelf in the bedroom at this house (where we are house-sitting). So, I added it to the stack. And then another friend of mine read it and raved about it.

And now I've read it and will rave about it.

I loved this book. It is the story of white women and their black maids in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. That is about as much as you can say without giving away too much of the plot, but here are some things I really liked about this book:
  • There are three different narrators in the book. I love it when authors do this well. Each of the narrators (two black maids and one white lady) has a very distinct and individual voice. The black maids' parts are written the way that they would speak, and it's clear that they didn't speak exactly the same. The variations are slight, but I noticed them, and I appreciated that the author was clever enough to include them.
  • It's a great portrayal of some of the tensions between blacks and whites in the Deep South during this time period. You can really see why it was so hard for blacks to get ahead, and you can really see the different perspectives that blacks and whites had. Many black people wanted to lay low and avoid stirring up trouble (and the book shows why they would have an interest in keeping a low profile). Some white people were horrible; others were decent and kind. It really varied, and the book shows that.
  • The plot is really captivating and still believable. There are multiple story-lines going on, as any good plot should have, and the Stockett does a good job of keeping them balanced and resolving them.
  • Despite all of the hard things in this book, there are a number of very funny and very touching moments.
I couldn't help but wonder, after reading this book, what kind of a white lady I would have been fifty years ago.

4 comments:

Jenn said...

I've been wanting to read this book lately after hearing so many good reviews of it. Unfortunately, everyone else in my county seems to have the same idea because there are over 800 holds on this book at the library!

Jenny said...

Me too. Loved it. I read it on vacation last November, and it was a pleasure to read.

Janssen said...

Just finally got this from the library this weekend - so excited to read it. I've been on the hold list for several months.

Heather said...

I really liked this book as well!