karen's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Apr 13, 10

bookshelves: it-is-for-class


this book and i almost never met. and that would have been tragic. the fault is mostly mine - i mean, the book made no secret of its existence - a billion weeks on the best seller list, every third customer asking for it at work, displays and reviews and people on here praising it to the heavens. it practically spread its legs for me, but i just kept walking. i figured it was something for the ladies, like sex and the city, which i don't have to have ever seen an episode of to know that it's not something i would enjoy. i figured that this book was on the ladder one rung above chick lit. so i am to blame for my snobbish dismissiveness, but have you seen this cover?? what is with that sickroom color scheme? and i hate those stupid little birds. what is chip kidd so busy doing that he can't just pop over here and lend a hand?? it is not my fault for thinking it was a crappy book when that cover wanted me to think it is a crappy book.

but this book is good. really, really good. again, i thank you, readers' advisory class, for fixing me up with this book. it has been a long time since i have read such a frankly entertaining book. (if a book about the emotionally-charged early days of the civil rights movement can be called entertaining.) this is just an effortlessly told story, split between three different women, whose voices and perspectives never run together - the secondary characters are also completely believable and are all different brands of repellent, with some token sympathetic characters tossed in for the halibut. i don't even know what to say, i just feel all "aw, shucks, i loved this book" about it - there were several times i would catch myself grinning at a turn of phrase or a situation, and every time i would start to doubt myself, that maybe i would like sex and the city. or buffy the vampire slayer or all these things i have formerly judged without having read/seen/eaten. maybe i am like these white women in the book, taking their help for granted and assuming they have nothing to say to each other because of their unwillingness to talk to them and know them as human beings. maybe buffy and i have so much to learn from one another...

then i would snap out of it and remember that my gut opinions are 99.99% foolproof.

so for you other people, who need to be swayed by hype - i give you hype. this book's hype is merited - it would be a perfect book to read this summer when you are melting from the sun and need a good story.. this is a very tender and loving book, about hope and sisterhood and opportunity, but also about beatings and terror and shame.

still hate those birds, though.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 78) (78 new)

message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

i've ignored everyone, from coworkers to my grandma to the ny times bestseller list, who has tried to convince me to read this... but have been secretly waiting these past few days to hear what you thought. and i just added it to my to-read shelf. so thanks. i think.

karen oh, the pressure!

but i know what you mean - everyone told me how good it was, and i just sniffed. a solid 4 and a half stars, but i rounded up because of how impressed i was that i could actually be wrong in my gut.

message 3: by David (new)

David Yup. I don't think I could ever read a book with this cover design. Sorry, Kathryn Stockett, the publisher and graphic designer really failed you.

I am shallow.

Now... if you'll excuse me, I have to go aesthetically purge. Sort of the graphic design equivalent of bulimia. This piece of shit is being ejected.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

your review particularly swayed me because you addressed every reason why i have been avoiding it.

Marissa I feel the same way! I'm about half way done and I absolutely love it so far! I read that they're predicting it will become a classic in time. I've heard about it like everyone else--my mom also read it and said it was amazing--but it was never a book I thought to pick up and read myself. I'm so glad Chelton had us read it for class :)

Courtney i also think the characters are believable. Everyone has a "i don't know what's going on" kinda attitude and that's how i was when i was in Georgia. nothing ever happened in the place where i lived and i never watched or read the news kinda like Skeeter.

Sarah Null Karen do you think this book would appeal to men at all? Because I don't. It's very good, and it's not "chick lit" in the way that Sophie Kinsella or Jane Green are, but since it's all about women and from the POV of women, I don't see it appealing to men at all.

karen no, i think i meant to write that in the review, but i was hurrying to write it before work, and i forgot. it's definitely "women's fiction", but the good kind,you know?

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

i'm taking it off the shelf.

Trish I'm impressed you liked it. I really enjoyed listening to the audio because of the voices--so southern. It has an interesting story line and is able to carry it off...but great literature, I don't think so. So, who cares, great literature no one ever reads.

message 11: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Okay. This is going to be my next choice for sisters' book club. But I have to read a Jodi Picoult for it first-it's younger sister's turn now...I think it's the immigration/bulimia/kidnapping/drug trafficking one, but I'm not sure.

karen yay sisters!

message 13: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen And you're right about the cover. It looks too precious. I had passed it by, assuming that people who read it were the kind that wear their childrens' birthstones around their necks.

message 14: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Perhaps I'm being too judgmental of birthstone lovers. If anyone's offended, they can think evil thoughts of me and the birthstone topaz.

karen i can't wait to see what the paperback will look like.

karen i thought that was the british paperback, since it is already out. the 'merican one isn't out for a while.

karen lame!!!

i am a peridot.

message 20: by Eh?Eh! (new) - added it

Eh?Eh! I'm wearing peridot right now. I judge myself.

karen are you an august baby, too?? did i know that already??

message 22: by Eh?Eh! (new) - added it

Eh?Eh! August is the best! I've only mentioned summer before. Our parents did some winter cuddling. Jen is mystery - topaz goes with November AND December.

message 23: by karen (last edited Apr 13, 2010 03:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

karen i think she is november....my goodreads.com b-day calendar is at home...but i'll bet she knows!

message 24: by Greg (new)

Greg Jen's is in November, we had some confusion about a quote on my profile and her birthday. Now I'll never forget it.

message 25: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I'll never forget my birthday now either.

I hate topaz. I love November. Autumn is nice.

The nicest thing to do with topaz is an Ezra Pound poem someone gave me once (a secret admirer-gotta love those). Anyway, he decided to let me know about how he felt by giving me a poem about a girl with the topaz eyes, or something like that.

message 26: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Okay. I found the poem. I know you guys were dying to know that.


But I'm not as sure about how he felt anymore-this poem is a little, well, it's Pound.

message 27: by Greg (new)

Greg Jen wrote: "I'll never forget my birthday now either."

I'm glad I could help you remember when your birthday is too!!

message 28: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Greg wrote: "Jen wrote: "I'll never forget my birthday now either."

I'm glad I could help you remember when your birthday is too!!"

Now every November 16th I'm going to want to eat shit and die- or something like that.

karen oh, that poem is sweet!!
is your secret admirer on goodreads.com?? is it greg?

message 30: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Of course not. If Greg admired someone, he'd surely send a haiku.

His name was Patrick. He was a very, very quiet tall guy in college. He had glasses and dark hair. And that is all I remember about Patrick. Except that he waited until the last day before I left to move the summer before my college to give me the poem. And even then shy Patrick made me promise to open it in the car driving away. It could have been a movie. Except I didn't yell to stop the car and run out with electric passion. I just thought, aw, well, that's nice. And then we drove away.

message 31: by Jen (last edited Apr 13, 2010 10:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Patrick had bad planning skills. I would have at least kissed him for that poem. Maybe he gave another girl a poem before she drove away. Maybe I helped him hone his poem giving techniques. Maybe the next time she loved him madly right then and there. In the parking lot. With the lined and folded paper in her hands.

karen oh, jen.

i can only say, "awwwwww"

message 33: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I would say that I still have that poem, but I de-clutter my life too often to think it remains.

karen maybe when greg is finished with david's poems, he can write a month of poetry for you...

message 35: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I think it would be hard to follow the great Kowalski. And a month! Crap on a stick! Even I couldn't write poems about myself for an entire month.

karen hmmmm.... a challenge...

message 37: by Dave (new)

Dave Russell I once gave a girl I had a secret crush on this poem:


Not very subtle, is it?

message 38: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Well, there's no topaz in it.

message 39: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen There's love hidden all over the place in there.

message 40: by Dave (new)

Dave Russell If there's a poem about emerald, I didn't know about it.

karen i once called up a boy and sang "i just called to say i love you" into the phone.

now that is subtle, people...

message 42: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I once told a guy I liked him in junior high in my secret language...I kept saying "I know who likes you" and he said "who?" and then I said "mthagee" which meant me...but he thought it meant Angie, some girl that he had a crush on, so the whole affair was depressing.

message 43: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen But we had the same birthday, so I know we could have shared birthstone jewelery. Missed possibilities.

Sarah Null I had a secret admirerer once, in high school. He (I assume it was a he) doorbell ditched my house on Valentine's day. When we opened the door, no one was there. But there was a balloon, a box of chocolates, and a card that said something like "I just want you to know someone cares." I never found out who it was.

message 45: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine karen wrote: "i once called up a boy and sang "i just called to say i love you" into the phone.

now that is subtle, people..."

I have trouble imagining this.

karen yeah, it was a couple of years ago...

message 47: by Gwen (last edited Apr 14, 2010 07:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gwen Haaland Luckily, I never gave a thought to this book's cover.
It was assigned reading for two of my book clubs and quickly became one of my favorite books ever read for a book discussion group. Can't wait to discuss it at the upcoming local meetings.
I am happy to hear that this one was a winner for you as well.
For all of you hold outs, do your self a favor and read The Help.
5 stars all the way.

karen it's a really good choice for book clubs.

message 49: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen And bad book cover aficionados.

message 50: by Scott (last edited Jul 22, 2010 10:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Scott Sheaffer Ariel wrote: "your review particularly swayed me . . . "

Karen's review also motivated me to take this one off the shelf. I'm about 1/3 of the way thru. So far I've learned 1) don’t judge a book by its cover 2) there are still some civil rights era stories that are untold. This one is especially creatively told.

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