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.