Jennifer's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Aug 08, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-historical-fiction
Read in September, 2011

Doing this on audio for book club.

I don't see how someone could dislike the characters of this book . . . Abilene, Minnie, Skeeter, and Celia just grew on me. I loved these women and wanted the best for them in every way. It made me hope that as a nation that we have grown some over the last 50 years . . . thus, I had to give it five stars, because I couldn't resist these wonderful, real women.

However, I can also see the side of those who think this book simplifies race relations by narrowing the war down between the women you love and the woman you love to hate. No one thinks they are Hilly Holbrook - she is the embodiment of awfulness. Since she is so easy to dislike, she is easy to dismiss. The book doesn't really ask us to look at the seeds of racism that each of us carry, because Hilly's is so over-the-top - after all, at least we aren't that bad. ( http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/08/11... )

Second, this really is something of another "white savior" book. Please read this article by Martha Southgate: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20516... . These maids or people like them, could have written this book. They didn't need Skeeter to lead them or speak for them. In fact, African-American author, Alice Childress, actually did write a book very much like "The Help" in 1956 - "Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life." (http://www.amazon.com/Like-One-Family... ) She spoke to over 60 women in domestic service and worked as a domestic herself. I look forward to getting my hands on her book, and hoping to give myself another perspective.

"The Help" is an engaging story, and it makes me feel hopeful about people and about the kindness available to all of us. I also hope that it opens the doors to more honest conversations about race, because, while "The Help" is a good story - I'm not convinced it's a well-rounded view of history, nor that it's necessarily an accurate picture of the feelings of the women who experienced this time in American history.
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