Meggan's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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's review
Apr 15, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: pop-fiction
Read from March 10 to April 15, 2012

I said in my bio that I prefer books that would get me kicked out of debutate balls. This book would not. In fact, I can see how high society, old and new, would embrace it on the justification that any story about Mississippi is "theirs." Stockett says as much in the conclusion: she defends Mississippi to any outsider who criticizes it. To paraphrase, it's a backwards shit hole, but it's "her" backwards shit hole. In that sentiment, there is a fine line between white guilt and white pride. Being from Mississippi myself, I know how little has changed since "three extraordinary women set off on a journey of personal transformation." Perhaps change is slow because white people treat stories about MS like comfort food.

As expected for a bestseller, this book has a sticky-sweet message. The film's tagline makes me want to barf ("Change begins with a whisper" puh-leeze.) Message white people will get out of The Help: love conquers all, even the colorline. Domestic work as a "profession" is fine as long as employers are nice (I put "profession" in quotes because its not a choice, it's a forced social/economic relationship. Even today's employers justify domestic work as a "stepping stone," when its something more like a caste). And it's the nasty racists who create racism.

The one thing I'll say about the book is this: the daily chores of household labor are interesting and well-written (I'll never forget Aibileen ironing all those pleats). I'll likely read more fiction books on the subject to compare. Hoping for a work that is less like a Starbucks frappuccino and more like a brew I screwed up at home but have to drink anyway. It will be darker, heavy with irony, and without saccharine. And I'll be sure to serve myself.

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Reading Progress

15.0% "so far the writing is comparable to a C+ undergraduate paper on race/gender"
30.0% "Sad I missed the women's studies colloquium on this book at my university. I bet it was a good discussion of the books problems. Nothing gets to the heart feminism, power, and difference than domestic work. I admit I hold this book to an impossibly high standard."
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Meggan Momma wants me to read this since we're from Mississippi.

message 2: by svnh (new)

svnh This sounds dangerous.

Meggan yeah its gonna get ugly

message 4: by Ali (new)

Ali let me know how it goes, i was thinking of reading it

message 5: by Aleks (new)

Aleks Respectfully, I think I love you.

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