Becky's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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's review
Sep 18, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, library-books, audiobook, the_south, 2010, highly-recommended, politicalish, reviewed, tear-jerkers
Recommended for: Anyone with skin.
Read from February 22 to 23, 2010

I'm so, so glad that I gave this book a chance. I've had somewhat bad experience with books that have been hyped as much as this one has, and I generally try to avoid the hyped ones, but for once, finally, here is a book that lives up to the hype and more importantly, deserves it.

I don't really have words to say what I felt was great about this book without sounding cliche. This book was brilliant on so many levels, I feel like I want to start it over from the beginning and listen to it again. Right now.

I grew up in the South, and I have always loved it. The slower pace, the afternoon thunderstorms, the heat and humidity that makes it hard to breathe, the crickets, crepe myrtles and spanish moss, the old feel and the history... all of it. If I had my way, I would buy an old plantation house in Georgia somewhere and never leave. It would have deep porches, and a huge shade tree in the yard, and green everywhere I look, and not another house in sight from my own. This is my idea of heaven.

"The Help" reminded me of this, and makes me so homesick I can taste it. The accents of the readers probably made it worse, because they were so familiar. I'm not sure if I'm happy that I listened to this audio first or not, actually. The readers brought a LOT of interpretation to it, and I normally dislike that. But I secretly enjoyed it here simply because the accents were ones that I'd forgotten that I'd missed for so long. It actually made me a little sad to listen to the accents, as pathetic as that may seem.

But the readers were very good, I must say, and this is among the best audiobooks I've listened to. Aibileen was by far my favorite reader. Her sections were just... alive. Not to say that the other sections weren't, but there was just something about hers that just had a little more oomph. Maybe it was simply because Aibileen was my favorite character, or maybe simply because she was the first voice I heard, and so I formed an early opinion. I think that it was just her sections that really spoke to me, and really caused my stomach to knot up.

This story really spoke to me. It took me through such a wide range of emotions, I don't even know where to start. Mostly though, it made me angry and proud. Angry because of the way that people used to think, and still do in lots of places, and proud because of the way that better people have stood up and said its wrong, and of how far we've moved past our hatred and ignorance.

I loved this book from the start, when we first meet Aibileen. She tells us how she has raised 17 other-people's-babies, and how she's been a maid/nanny since she was 15. I loved Aibileen's character. She's strong, patient, brave, smart, funny, and fair. I teared up right off the bat when she tells about her son, and when she tells us about little May Mobley (guessing at the spelling here, as I haven't seen it in print) and how she's all but ignored by her own mother. Aibileen just had this straight-forward honest feel about her that I loved.

Minny is also honest, but in a different way. Not revelation honest, but in-yo'-face honest. I loved Minny, who cared despite herself. Minny isn't a trusting sort. She's got tall, thick walls around her heart to protect herself, and we get to peek over them to see inside, occasionally.

Miss Skeeter is the person I most identified with, at least as far as her opinions and actions. I admired her bravery and courage in going against the grain and sacrificing things she didn't even know she had to do the right thing. I like to think, that had I been alive in 1960's Mississippi, that I'd've done the same thing. Certain things should just be done because they are right, no matter the cost. I also admired her for being true to herself, and not allowing herself to be married off to someone who couldn't accept her for who she is.

This book mainly centers around racism, and that is my hot-button "issue". I will say it right now: I cannot stand racism. We're all just people: white, black, asian, hispanic, middle-eastern, whatever. Religion, culture, history, ideas, etc - THESE things are what make us different, and we should accept and honor each other for them, not fear and hate each other because of our skin tone.

I don't know how much of the pro-white, pro-segregationist propaganda depicted in this was true, but I have a feeling that most, if not all of it, was. Black people are good enough to raise white people's kids, but not put their glass in the same cupboard because they'll spread "disease". Shameful, awful behavior. I still have a knot of anger in my stomach thinking of the way that people were treated for nothing more than the pigmentation in their skin. The lengths to which one group of people would go to put another group down and make them suffer made me angry and bitter - I had to keep reminding myself that this was a book. But even so, this kind of thing DID happen, once. It hurts my heart to know that as a people, we have this kind of behavior in us. I just don't understand it.

So much of this story broke my heart, but was hopeful at the same time. Of course we know where the civil rights movement takes us, and how far we've progressed, but reading, or rather listening to this, I felt almost like I was living it through these women. The historical markers that Stockett added in, the murder of Medgar Evers, the assassination of JFK, MLK's march on Washington DC, all helped to make this feel very real. I was so tense during parts of it that I left fingernail marks on my palms from clenching my fists. It's definitely a book that will shove your feet into three pairs of shoes and shove you out the door to walk in them. I think that I will be feeling this book for a long while to come.

This book is right up there with To Kill a Mockingbird as "Must Read Books". So, go read it. :)
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Reading Progress

02/23/2010 page 8
02/23/2010 page 15
100.0% 2 comments
08/01/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Becky Oh man, I listened to a little sample, and this sounds like it is going to be GOOD. :D

Laura Yay! I am soooooo looking forward to this.

Kandice I'm going to try to pick it up today.

Becky Laura wrote: "Yay! I am soooooo looking forward to this. "

It's very good so far. I'm listening to the audio. I listened to a chapter last night, and I'm listening to a little bit on my lunch break... It's already been a little heartbreaking though and made me want to cry twice. I'm not even two chapters in yet.

Laura Woah! If you're wanting to cry, I'd probably be making puddles lol. High praise from Jon and sooo many others, it's bound to be good.

Becky Laura wrote: "Woah! If you're wanting to cry, I'd probably be making puddles lol. High praise from Jon and sooo many others, it's bound to be good."

It doesn't take much to make me cry. Overactive empathy nerve and all, you know.

It is very good, though. I'm skipping the Olympics tonight to listen. :)

Beth Knight Laura, you know you want to read it! It really was very good. I just finished reading it a few days ago and I just may have to listen to it as well because people keep raving about the audio version.

message 8: by Jon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon wonderful book, i bet audio would be fun on this one

Laura Well weirdly, I actually bought this when I went away in October (but haven't read it yet, why why why?) and I very rarely buy fiction, but now I'm gonna get on the waitlist for the audio at the library!

Thx everyone for the tips. :)

Becky The audio is very good... There are a few skips and scratches because its a library copy, but the readers are very good. I have to ignore some of the voices that the reader of Miss Skeeter's parts do, because she just seems to make them a little too interpreted, but other than that, I'm really enjoying it.

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

Jon YAY another 5 stars for this wonderful book!. you just know there will be a film in the offing too!

Becky I'm almost positive there will be. :)

Laura Aw Becky. Your review brought tears to my eyes girl. Awesome.

Kandice I can't wait to read it. I already wanted to, but now I am actually chomping at the bit to start.

I wish you could hear Judith Ivey read Ya Yas in Bloom. Her accent and tone has done the same thing to me that this one did to you.:*) (happy tears)

Heather Loved your review, Becky. Can't wait to read this!

(psst...Laura...let me know when you're ready! I should have my copy in Friday, I hope.)

Laura Heather, the library has 44 copies of the audio and I'm 96th on the list. Maybe in a week or so? Would that work?

Heather Perfect! :)

Laura I hope my guess is right! Can't wait!


Heather I got my copy yesterday, so I'll be ready when you are. I'm looking forward to it too! I had turned on NPR today when I was in the car and the host was reading from the book. I didn't listen long, because I didn't want to be spoiled. I was curious as to why she was reading it though. Interesting...A lot of people are loving this book!


message 20: by Gemzi (new) - added it

Gemzi I am soooooo gonna read this book!

message 21: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Ansbro Recommended to 'anyone with skin.' That's a great line, Becky!
The book does elicit strong emotions - and so it should.

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