The Help, by Kathryn Stockett 2009
Not going to lie to you, I read this book in December 2011. But it is that good I can still remember it clearly.
Girl writes controversial book in 50s. Wait, no. Woman (with no life experience) take romantic notion of compiling the memoirs of black serving maids (with years of experience) in 1950’s Minnesota to impress a book publisher from the city, however, after finally obtaining some co-operation from the titular Help she realises how the world around her; that she often complains about, is rose tinted. Does this book end with a glamorous saving of the day and reforming the world? No, no it does not. Does this book contain a ‘terrible bad’? Why yes, yes it does.
Written from the viewpoint of three characters, the reader can see three very different stories, each with secrets from each other, and each with their own distinct voice. After the first couple of changes I barely needed the announcement of the character.
The characters are human. They are ordinary people in (unfortunately?) ordinary circumstances (for the 50’s anyway). But they do have extraordinary resolve, which is something most humans lack, and that is what makes this worthy of a story. Besides the whole black/white racism thing (I don’t want to write a rant in my review about how racism is stupid) it is written about the value of human life to one another. If you employ someone, does that make you better than them? If someone employs you, do you respect them even in their foulest actions?
Stockett writes with a beautiful detail that is insinuated more than physically touched upon; to the point the reader sometimes feels as though the character is still lying to themselves. There will be times you shake your book/kindle in frustration when the characters undergo another ‘facepalm’ moment. But it is all equalled to those passages that had me laugh out loud to the point I couldn’t focus on the words for a minute.
The conflict within Minny’s mind is perfectly crafted; especially in comparison to her arrival in the other two character’s chapters. Her fiery temperament and vulnerable thoughts will have you loving her within moments of her introduction.
Every character feel’s so real, maybe this is helped by the phonetic dialect being spelt (Pretty sure I had an American drawl for the couple days I was reading) but the honesty of the novel is appealing to me. I would happily read this book again whilst on holiday etc. It had the obvious serious tone, but it was so damn funny. I cried a little, sure, but this book doesn’t make the reader feel bad or guilty. Even without a happily ever after you see the resolve of the people extend past the life of the novel.
I could put it down at certain intervals. The style of writing; i.e separating the narrating characters into different chapters, meant you could stop between each story, thus, making ‘The Help’ suitable for people with busy lifestyles or bedtime readers. However, most individual segments drop off at a cliff hanger moment; playing on your mind, but if that didn’t happen, it wouldn’t be a good book.
I am glad I read The Help, a wonderful style is used to make you laugh, cry and inspired for revenge with creative but vile tactics.
For people who can’t/won’t read it is also a film made in 2011 but I haven’t seen it yet.
Also, I apologise profusely for that awful pun title for this review, sleepy Natalie just thought it was funny.