Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"The Help" by Kathryn Stocket [Book Review]

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have a love/hate relationship with reading any book or story on African-American history. I become emotionally involved, whether or not the characters are real, and I'm ready to fight - shoulder to shoulder. I feel books like this should be part of every woman's "must read" list; by doing so we may prevent history from repeating itself. Although this book is fiction it does give insight into the lives of women who endured nonsensical treatment by other women. I say nonsensical because Hilly is silly in the most ridiculous, irrational, crazy way possible. If Hilly represents even a fraction of the women who hired help and treated them as such, I'm ashamed.

I couldn't put this book down and I couldn't stop thinking about it even days after I read the last word. I couldn't stop thinking about the unreasonable lies on how the color of one's skin makes you so much different, or how the help was required to raise children and teach them manners - but were thought to lack such things themselves, or the frustration of segregation as a whole. Mostly, my heart ached for the babies unloved by their mama's who were raised and loved by the help, and then grew up to be just like their mama's. I felt that Kathryn took a sensitive subject and wrote, with honest experience, what it must've been like for these women working for privileged, spoiled white families with the daily fear of how they could ruin their life. To hear Kathryn talk about the sneaky, manipulative, underhanded way the white women ruined the lives of the help that "wronged" them was unbelievable.

Still, it was encouraging to read stories (like the author's tid bit titled, "Too Little, Too Late") where relations between the hired help and the employer were friendly and developed into lasting friendship. "What is the point of this book? For women to realize, we are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought." (p.418) I walked away with an understanding that not all stories of "The Help" are heartbreaking, but those that are stick out like a sore thumb. Kathryn wrote an incredible story that will leave you with an inability to stop shaking, crying, laughing, and seething with frustration and anger.

Oh and as a side note, like the editor Missus Stein, I too adore Minny (aka Gertrude) because she is in fact "... every Southern white woman's nightmare. I adore her." (p.386)

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  1. I LOVED this book! I couldn't put it down either.

    1. I was up from 2 AM to almost 5 finishing it because I was up and thinking about it anyway. I paid for it the next day, but it was well worth it. It's hard to sit and read a book with a two year old running around. :)