Thomas's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Apr 25, 10

bookshelves: five-stars, adult-fiction, historical-fiction, 2nd-favorites
Recommended for: Everyone
Read from April 23 to 25, 2010

Originally, I thought this book should have been retitled The Hype. At least that's what I told my friend. I remember thinking something along the lines of, blah, another story about racism in the old southern days? Must be the chick-lit version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Wow. I was so wrong.

The Help details the lives of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi, right when the Civil Rights Movement began. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Constantine. Aibileen is an experienced and knowledgeable black maid who is currently taking care of her seventeenth child, Mae Mobley, even though she realizes what's at stake for both of them. And Minny is a fierce, sassy cook who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, even when it risks her employment. This tumultuous trio takes the first step in sparking a movement that will ignite fire to the racism and hypocrisy of their small town.

My synopsis of the story probably isn't even a tenth of the merit it deserves. I don't want to spoil too much about the book, but the most amazing thing about The Help is its characters. They are so real, so lifelike, I could feel their thoughts pulsing through my head and their emotions racing through my veins. I was angry alongside them, cheered for them, and cried with them.

I think everyone should read this book, especially people who are ignorant about the racism and hypocrisy that still manages to plight everyday society. The Help wasn't just a darn good read, but something that has made me reevaluate and examine my own morals. I'll never forget it.

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Reading Progress

04/24/2010 page 184
40.8%

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Angelc (new)

Angelc Great review, Thomas, I've been really curious about this one. I'm glad to hear it's more than the hype!


Thomas Thank you :) The Help is a great novel. I highly recommend it.


Wesley You've made my library trips so much easier ha. Before I go I just have to stop by and see what Thomas is throwing out there as the goods, you're dead on every time. I can't wait to get into this one, I have a long out of town trip this weekend and am going to have lots of time on my hands, this just went to the top of my list!


Thomas Ha, I'm glad I can be of service :) Regardless of my opinion this book is a huge hit for a lot of other people as well, I think you'll really enjoy it! Tell me what you think of it when you're done :D


Wesley I just finished this last night, WOW. This was fantastic, I mean naturally what it was about wasn't but the book, the writing and the story was wonderful. This is another of those that everyone really needs to read.


Thomas I 100% agree. It's truly inspiring and changed my outlook on life. I'm so happy that you loved it enough to shelve it as a favorite :D


Wesley Yeah, it really was, my dad whom was born in Jackson is reading it now. I'm really curious to have that conversation.


Wesley Yeah get this, I had just gotten "The Help" from the library, I was at my favorite used book store last week and found it for $5, and yes I snatched it up. I couldn't believe it, hardback even


Melinda If you are saying stuff like: " the most amazing thing about The Help is its characters. They are so real, so lifelike, I could feel their thoughts pulsing through my head and their emotions racing through my veins." then you haven't read much true literature, have you? The characters are not all that well written, Skeeter never would have left her precious satchel at that white town hall meeting (please excuse me if I don't get every fact straight, but I read it two years ago and have read many books since) and every white woman in the book spoke The Queen's English. No dialect there. I counted a total 2 "y'alls" from the white women and my best friend is from TN and practically every word out of her mouth is "t'all" and she is highly educated. Sctockett had a GREAT idea for the book, but it is poorly executed.


message 10: by Thomas (last edited Jul 22, 2011 08:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas Are you implying that only characters in "true literature" can be well-written? If so, I have to disagree. There are many books that boast complex and realistic characters that aren't exactly considered "literature", i.e., Harry Potter or Shiver. And to answer your question I have not read a lot of "true literature", but I've read enough to appreciate great characters in literature and classics as well as in contemporary novels.

I don't understand your comment on how Skeeter wouldn't have left her satchel at the town hall meeting. How does that detract from her character or its authenticity? People make mistakes all the time.

As for your argument regarding the dialect, I admit I'm not an expert on the way Southern women spoke during this time period. But just because your friend utilizes the word "y'all" often does not mean everyone else from her town or area does. Besides, I'm willing to overlook a minute issue like that one if the plot and characters aren't impacted tremendously by it (which they aren't).

Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this book as much as I did.


Melinda I don't believe that I 'implied" that only characters in "true literature" can be well-written, I believe I came straight out and said it, Thomas.

I go to Tennessee every year (for the past 10 years) and stay with my friend and hang with all of her friends went to schools in NYC or Browne and they ALL say "y'all" in nearly every sentence. They all read The Help and were screaming with laughter at how trite, predictable, one-dimentional and cartoonish the white characters were. This group of women, all were girls raised by "The Help", and they loved their nannies and cooks more then they loved their parents and the ones who aren't dead are still cherished parts of their extended families.

Skeeter leaving her satchel at the town hall is just one of the glaring bits that would never have happened (remember...her life was practically at stake as were the lives of the women she was protecting and using for her own selfish means) and if I had something SO damming, I would have left it in my car during that meeting.

Listen: I don't care if people like the book. I have tried (and mostly failed) to point out that it was a hell of an idea for a book, and it was poorly executed. No less than 5 people who's opinions matter to me recommended that I read The Help, and I did, but I just couldn't believe the insipid dreck within the pages.

I have been called a "closeted Hilly" for my remarks and I have been personally attacked for my remarks, since I read the book when it first came out, there weren't thousands, upon thousands of reviews as there are now.

As for "literature" with beautifully realized three dimensional characters... try "The Known World" by Edward P. Jones, "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, "Gone with the Wind" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" (both books the Help was compared to) and an amazing book called "Kindred" by Octavia Butler. I just read Roots for the first time about 6 months ago....and I went into it thinking: well, I have seen the series twice, what more could there be? and boy...was I wrong. Roots is a masterpiece, and just the 30 page "new" ending written before Alex Haley died is worth reading right there. I read Roots in 4 days flat over Christmas vacation and it's over 1,000 pages. I, literally, could not put it down. It is magnificent.

The Help is a pop fiction piece and nothing more... and like I said... A great idea for a book and very poorly executed. My Tennessee friend is in town where I live right now and she and I plan on going to see The Help because we both actually think it will be a better film than a book... but we'll have to see.... My original title for my review was "A Big Slice of Minnie Pie" and I stand behind it.


message 12: by Thomas (last edited Jul 23, 2011 05:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas "then you haven't read much true literature, have you?"

That sounds more like a personal attack than an actual statement about literature.

"Skeeter leaving her satchel at the town hall is just one of the glaring bits that would never have happened... if I had something SO damming, I would have left it in my car during that meeting."

Well, that's good for you. Unfortunately, as you're not the author of The Help, that's not how it happened and Skeeter made the mistake of leaving it inside the meeting. I'm sorry this one device used to further the plot has caused you so much ire.

"I have been called a "closeted Hilly" for my remarks and I have been personally attacked for my remarks, since I read the book when it first came out, there weren't thousands, upon thousands of reviews as there are now."

Again, I'm sorry that people have personally attacked you for your opinions. That's horrible, and people shouldn't be targeted because of their taste in books. I admire the tenacity you've shown by standing up for your beliefs.

"Listen: I don't care if people like the book. I have tried (and mostly failed) to point out that it was a hell of an idea for a book..."

Then let it be. As you've pointed out there are a myriad of individuals who loved this book as much as I did, and there are some who disliked it as much as you did. Every book has its fans and its "foes" (or, people who didn't enjoy it). That's just how it is. My advice would be to continue reading books better suited to your tastes and not spend so much time arguing about a book you seemingly can't stand.

"..."Gone with the Wind" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" (both books the Help was compared to)..."

I loved both of those books! They're two of my favorites. I'm glad we like some of the same books despite disagreeing about The Help. :)


Melinda We can agree to disagree and I get that every so often mediocre books like this will come along and sweep up everyone and trick people into thinking that it's an important work of literature. Even you say "I think everyone should read this book, especially people who are ignorant about the racism and hypocrisy that still manages to plight everyday society". Why? Didn't The Help take place 50 years ago? We have a black president and I think we made it though that bit of "history"

I have never said everyone SHOULD read this book or that book because everyone is different. But you say it... And I disagree. I also don't know why you are apologizing to me for getting attacked for my opinions. Why should you care? I don't. I just call 'em as I see 'em...... Actually... enough people agreed with me on The Help, so I have felt vindicated for the 2 days I spent reading it. Many people said that my review was the best negative review out there.

Anyway... Have fun at the movie. My Tennessee friend and I are going, but mainly just to laugh at how they prettied up Skeeter's hair (golden Shirley Temple curls) and watch Viola Davis because we think she is an important actress, albeit a bit too young to play Abileen. Peace Out.... ~~ML


message 14: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Melinda: I am a southerner and I can tell you that in my head, my voice has no accent. I simply do not "hear" it when I speak. The only time I am reminded that I DO have a southern accent is when I hear myself on tape. If I were writing my own dialogue, I would write it as I hear it in my head. Most of Skeeter's conversations in the book were one on one. Since y'all is always used as the plural form of you (you all), there would not have been much opportunity to use this very southern word. As a southerner, I am extremely picky about southern dialect and it sounded authentic to me.


Wesley rawr.


Melinda Mary: All I can say is my best friend lives 1/2 the year in Sattle and 1/2 the year in Tennessee and whenever she is speaking to me she says: When do y'all think you can go to lunch next week? Or Were do Y'all want to have sushi. I have asked her about this and she says (to me) that "y'all" can be mean for one person or many. But I was not just complaining about Skeeter..... All the other white women spoke w/o dialect. I stand by my 2 star rating for the written book. I did enjoy the movie (mostly) and I decided to get the book on tape and for THAT experience, I give it 4 stars, because it was performed just beautifully.


message 17: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Melinda: Your opinion of the book IS your own and each of us responds to books on a very personal level. I do not usually try and persuade someone that they should like a book they did not. No one could persuade me . I will take issue with you on the "y'all" again though. It is NEVER singular. It may SEEM to be singular if the plural is implied, but y'all always means more than one. Either your friend is not a native southerner OR when she is asking if "y'all" can go to lunch next week she is implying someone else is going too. This is a discussion that many of us in the south have on a regular basis. People misuse y'all all of the time (in movies, books, etc.) and most of the time they are sure that they have heard a southerner use it as a singular pronoun. It is not. Y'all is a contraction for you all (collective you).


Bookwormlisa I had heard & read so many mixed reviews about this book and I thought that it wouldn't live up to the hype. Everyone is different, everyone gains or looks for something different in a book. In regards to The Help - I adored it. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it touched my heart.


Thomas Bookwormlisa, you speak the truth! I'm glad you adored it as much as I did.


Jennifer Samora Wow. Wow. Wow. I loved the book. I laughed out loud. I cried enough tears to make my neck wet.

Thomas, You make me smile. You're so nice.

Maybe. Just maybe we could get Melinda to mention her friend from Tennessee at least ONE more time.


Thomas Thank you, Jennifer, and I am very happy that The Help caused you to experience a gamut of emotions similar to mine.

Oh jeez, that conversation happened almost a year ago. I think agreeing to disagree is a good policy. (:


Cynthia Cheney Hahahaha loved that you started out calling it The Hype but still enjoyed it so much. Yes!!!


Thomas Hey, it does have a lot of hype, doesn't it? But it deserves all of its lauds so I have no problem with that!


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