I read this book when I was 17, and loved it. Now that I'm older, it doesn't hold up to some of the better writing that I've read, but I do appreciateI read this book when I was 17, and loved it. Now that I'm older, it doesn't hold up to some of the better writing that I've read, but I do appreciate the fact that it got me into reading for pleasure, which I had not done up until that point in my life....more
Honestly, this is a good book. It reads very well, it has a lot of tension, and the tension is meaningful. The pacing is very well laid out, the charaHonestly, this is a good book. It reads very well, it has a lot of tension, and the tension is meaningful. The pacing is very well laid out, the characters are unique and memorable (hard to forget a maid who tricks her terrible boss into eating a pie made with her own shit, right?) The dialect gets clunky once in a while, but overall it is handled deftly, as is the shifting between three first-person narrators, which can be particularly tricky to pull off in a convincing fashion. Stockett has pulled it off quite well. It's a well-written story, and I enjoyed it very much.
Where the book will inevitably get heat is from the highbrow reviewers who say, "How dare a white woman try to write from the perspective of a black maid in the South in the early 1960s." To that I'd say, "Why not take a stab at it?" To be honest, I imagine it's easier to convinicingly write from the perspective of another race within the same country as the author than to write from the perspective of, say, another gender. Stockett is writing from the perspective of two black maids, and some people will forever have a problem with this. I personally don't have a problem with it at all, because I believe a good author can write from the perspective of any other person in the world and do it convincingly if they have the skill. But then again, I'm white, so I may not get a say in that one. Fair 'nough.
Stockett could have taken this book in a much different direction, though I don't know if it would be bettering or detrimental to do so. The unexplored potential conflict between Skeeter and the maids leaves something to be desired, but to bring that conflict to the surface would be to sour the book's tone of love and respect.
Other book reviewers may say that, at a high level, this book reinforces a trope of white supremacy in the South because the maids would not have been "liberated" from their positions were it not for the help of the white woman, Skeeter, who wrote their stories and got their book published. I think what Stockett is trying to convey is that it is just the opposite, or at least something much closer to symbiosis. Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny all win in their own ways in the end, and they could not have done so without each other. To look at the resolution of the plot as reinforcing the trope of a white person freeing black people is to ignore half of the narrative. Skeeter and Aibileen and Minny all grow because of their relationships with each other. It is not a one-sided relationship, with Skeeter imparting racial salvation to the black maids. It is a mutual growth in understanding and love for one another, and the narrative clearly shows all parties involved have changed for the better. In truth, it's the black maids who generate change within the characters around them. What's more liberating than that?...more
This is writing on another level. It's almost disheartening to read, simply for the fact that as a writer I don't believe this type of literary achievThis is writing on another level. It's almost disheartening to read, simply for the fact that as a writer I don't believe this type of literary achievement is possible, except with a select few of the best writers alive.
This is a really beautiful novel. As always, McCarthy's prose are phenomenal and engrossing. In all honesty, Blood Meridian is a far superior novel toThis is a really beautiful novel. As always, McCarthy's prose are phenomenal and engrossing. In all honesty, Blood Meridian is a far superior novel to this one, and I think that has something to do with themes explored in each work. This novel is about freedom and love and heartbreak and desperation, whereas Blood Meridian is about violence and human nature and eternity. For some reason the themes in Blood Meridian carry more weight than the ones in All The Pretty Horses.
That's not to say this isn't a great novel in its own right. It is. If I had read this before Blood Meridian, I think I would find this to be one of the best novels I've read. It appealed the the younger, freer spirit in me, which I found refreshing.
Looking forward to The Crossing, which I started the day after I finished this one....more
The trouble with writing a book in the same vein as In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences is that it will inevitablyThe trouble with writing a book in the same vein as In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences is that it will inevitably warrant comparrison, and it will likely not stand up. Biernat's retelling of a disturbing crime in Minnesota in 1980 is definitely a page turner, though that may be more due to its content than the writing itself. Biernat takes a journalistic approach to the writing most of the time, but often times strays from the factual and goes into what neighbors and parents "must have been feeling" at the time of the kidnappings--information to which she would not have access.
The main trouble with this book is the character of Ming Shieu, the kidnapper and rapist. He is terrifyingly creepy, and Biernat does a good job describing his mental state. Despite his unsettling character, he doesn't show any signs of inner conflict. He doesn't seem to struggle with himself at any point during the kidnapping, confinement, and rape. His main conflict is his quest to fulfill his desire to start a family with his kidnapped victims. Without this added layer of depth, Ming ends up feeling a little flat. He also negates Biernat's ability to comment on the nature of his crimes, other than saying they are bad/terrible/horrendous/unthinkable.
I read this book in one sitting, which I never do (though I did skim/skip a couple sections--mainly the details of how things predictably played out). It's a fast, engaging read, but doesn't reach to the human depth of other works in the genre....more