Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Books: The Help

Run: 5.7mi/I have no idea

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

When I told a friend recently that I was reading a book about racism in the South, he said "you really like those kinds of books, don't you?" and he went on to remind me of a book I read a while ago (Cloudsplitter) that had a similar theme. I guess I do. I don't know if it's because it's not something I've ever experienced, a place I've never lived, or the simple astonishment at people's ideas and attitudes. Or, absolutely loving when people challenge those ideas and do something important.

The Help is a novel, an interesting read, an easy read. I was actually expecting something a little... deeper, but the story was told well and I consistently wanted to read the book. I enjoyed Stockett's ability to hint at plot progression and yet save the complete information until later in the story. Even with the central plot being interesting, there were mysteries to solve, and I just really wanted to know what atrocious things were hidden inside these lives.
I actually thought one of the more intriguing points of the book were the notes at the end, where Stockett reveals that she was raised by a black maid in Mississippi. While she goes on to share her thoughts on this subject and on the state of Mississippi, you can tell that it was most likely a struggle for her to write the book, and a struggle to correctly portray both sides of the color line. 

The Help has been a popular book. A friend lent it to me, and right before she lent it to me I found it atop Powell's Puddly Awards list. This is Stockett's first novel, and I look forward to what she'll write next.


  1. This sounds like an interesting book. Also it reminds me that about 10 years ago I discovered taht my dad and aunt were raised by a black nanny. I had no idea as a child about this...and was shocked. Then I realized that it was Virginia and during WWII My grandpa was serving overseas and my grandma was working full time- so someone had to raise them. When the war was over, the situation changed.

  2. I have also read The Help and loved it!

  3. It's interesting that you noted it could have gone deeper. I have not read this myself yet, but it seems sometimes that the more commercial appeal a book has, it is most likely going to be attainable reading for the majority of people. I'm kind of suprised the dragon tattoo books are so popular because they have so much content that is specific to Swedish politics and locations. I guess you never know what will hit the right chord with a mass audience.