Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book to Movie: The Help

The Help
By Katheryn Stockett

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars

I really have no idea where to begin on this one. It has been put on my "desert island list" and it's one that I have recommended to almost every one of my friends.

Summary found on Goodreads:
The Help details the lives of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi, right when the Civil Rights Movement began. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Constantine. Aibileen is an experienced and knowledgeable black maid who is currently taking care of her seventeenth child, Mae Mobley, even though she realizes what's at stake for both of them. And Minny is a fierce, sassy cook who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, even when it risks her employment. This tumultuous trio takes the first step in sparking a movement that will ignite fire to the racism and hypocrisy of their small town.

There is a depth found in this novel that is hard to achieve. It still has the entertainment value that can occasionally have you laughing and yet is balanced by a parts that can break your heart. I fell in love with Abileen, Skeeter and Minny all in different ways. Abileen is the voice of reason -  the loving mentor who you can go to for anything. Skeeter is the plucky, slightly awkward young woman who comes into her own. And Minny? She takes the cake...or pie in this instance. Part of me thinks that she is the person we all want to be at some point in our lives, willing to tell everyone what we think of them be it good bad or ugly.

I have read about the 60's and segregation before but generally in a more inflammatory sense. Stockett though, while it's obvious where her sympathy lies, I felt that it wasn't told to rile readers up but rather to simply educate and entertain. It's a tricky balance to tell a story on this subject without sounding accusatory or didactic yet it was beautifully done. 

The writing style is something I fell in love with as well. Writing in accents, especially the ones required for this period can often be overdone and seem more like caricature rather than character. It was handled masterfully and contributed greatly to both the overall tone of the work and the plot as well. 

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