The beauty of this book is in the characters, particularly the three leads. The South of the 1960s is a...moreThis is one of my favorite books of the year.
The beauty of this book is in the characters, particularly the three leads. The South of the 1960s is a character unto itself, a highly segmented society in a world that is changing around it.
Skeeter was raised to be a Southern woman-- her purpose in life was supposed to be getting married, having children, and running a household (with the assistance of the help). Her mother is ashamed that Skeeter graduated from college without finding a husband, but Skeeter isn't so sure this is the end of the world.
Skeeter is ready to move into a new era. She'd like to work as a journalist. She'd like to have her writing published, not just her household tips, but something more.
She's given an amazing opportunity-- if she writes about something she REALLY cares about, it will be read by someone with the power to make something happen.
As she looks at her life, she realizes that a very important set of players is consistently overlooked-- the help, the black women that do the day to day work of running the households and raising the children. These women are not treated with respect, and Skeeter wants to tell their stories.
Doing this is a risk for Skeeter, but the risk the black women are taking is incredible. This is one of the reasons that hearing the different viewpoints was so powerful-- I wouldn't have been able to feel this fear as thoroughly if I'd only had Skeeter's view.
Aibileen is the first person to agree to work with Skeeter. She's also a writer, although if Skeeter's chances of being published are small, Aibileen's are non-existent. This doesn't stop her from watching everything around her with a writers eyes.
Aibileen mostly accepts her role in society, but she isn't happy about it. She loves taking care of young children, and has been handed the raising of her current charges.
Minny is the other lead on the project, although she is far less willing than Aibileen. She doesn't trust Skeeter at all, since Skeeter is white. Minny is a strong, sassy woman who has made mistakes in her own personal life.
Going back and forth between the three characters, seeing how it took all of them to make Skeeter's book happen, and seeing the effect the book has on everyone in the community was compelling reading.
The book did an amazing job of telling the story of the society of the time by showing us these three women and their lives. There were some funny moments, as well as many touching ones and outright sad ones. There were beautiful tales of love and respect between some of the pairs of white and black women.
I listened to the audio version of this book, and I think it is one of the best audio productions I've listened to, and really added to my enjoyment of the book. Hearing the different voices for the 3 characters really helped them come alive for me.(less)
How to Eat a Cupcake is a wonderful book about becoming an adult. It's about friendship and what makes a family. And it's about cupcakes.
When I first read the description of this book, I thought it would be the light, fluffy, fun kind of woman's fiction (dare I say-- chick lit?). I like light, fluffy fun books, but chick lit often seems to rub me the wrong way, but I found the description of this book interesting enough to be willing to give it a try anyway.
I'm glad I did. The book is fun, but not the light fluffy kind, and not the annoying, "why don't these woman just grow up" kind. It's thoughtful and multilayered, with characters that are real and appealing (some more immediately than others).
Getting to know Annie was easy. She's worked hard for everything she has, she makes time for friends, and misses her mother. She's perhaps a little too open and trusting for her own good, at least where everyone but the St. Claire family is concerned. She's a genuinely nice person.
Julia is definitely not nice. Driven and successful are (at least in the beginning) the most polite words to describe her. In this, she takes after her own mother. But there is more to her than that, even if she has trouble seeing it herself. Her complicated love life, a secret she's waiting for the right time to disclose, isn't helping. And beginning to realize how her behaviour affected her one-time best friend isn't making her feel any better about her life now.
These women are both still young, but are finally settling into the people they are going to be, and it's a pleasure to watch them grow.
Equally, it's interesting to see the process of building a business together, and watching them figure out why unexpected obstacles (like vandalism) are being thrown in their path.
And reading about the cupcakes themselves was, well, the icing on the cake.
Rereading The Book Thief after almost 3 years was interesting. When I read it the first time, I found it a suffocatingly stressful read. This reaction...moreRereading The Book Thief after almost 3 years was interesting. When I read it the first time, I found it a suffocatingly stressful read. This reaction surprised my book club, who (in spite of the subject matter) didn't find it so overwhelming.
This time, it didn't hit me the same way, and I was much more able to appreciate the characters and events in the story.
Read May 2007 for Mc book club Read March 2010 for LM Book Club(less)
Very well written, and a good look at the challenges of going off to then returning from war. This was an intense, not particularly enjoyable read, as...moreVery well written, and a good look at the challenges of going off to then returning from war. This was an intense, not particularly enjoyable read, as you might expect from the subject matter.(less)