The Help The Help discussion


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Am I the only one who thinks this book is overrated?

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, I know this book was really good and all, but there's people who consider it "life-changing" and "the best book they've ever read".

I felt as if it didn't live up to its potential. I was waiting for something monumental to happen. But it never came.

And the ending was kind of... I don't know... a cliff-hanger in some respects. We never will really know what will happen to these characters and yeah, I know, 'We have to decide what will happen with our imaginations'. That's just an author's excuse for being lazy and we all know it.

Okay, I'm making it sound like I didn't actually like the book. I did. In fact I gave it a 7/10 on my ratings. Which is pretty good.

Does anybody agree with me?


Sharon Alannah wrote: "Okay, I know this book was really good and all, but there's people who consider it "life-changing" and "the best book they've ever read".

I felt as if it didn't live up to its potential. I was w..."

I don't know if it was life-changing, but I consider it one of the better books I've read. How about an 8 out of 10.


Cathy DuPont I can say the same thing (overrated comment) about The Lovely Bones which I thought was overrated. The Help though, I really enjoyed and would give it five stars (Goodreads rating.) It was one of the best I've read in a few years. Of course, different strokes, etc.

And the ending, I don't think an author is being lazy for that kind of ending. Everyone can, in their own mind, determine whether what her life turned out to be. And the lives of the help, continued on as it was, or one or more became successful by opening their own business, or not. Books, movies and even lives don't always end with little ties all neatly tied up. It was, in my opinion, a very thoughtful book about the south, decisions, feelings and attitudes.

I can clearly relate to the book because I grew up in the late 50's and early 60's...in the south. It was pretty much as she described it...on target, in my opinion. And it was considered fiction, if I remember right.

I know I've changed my attitude and feelings towards others but unfortunately many friends and even family members have not. And that's a disappointment for me since I believe we should constantly learn and evolve to be better people. If it was life changing, maybe it was meant to say they considered themselves better people because they read the book. Maybe.


Greengirl I loved it, and as far as it changing my life....In No way would I ever be anything like these foolish women except Skeeter and ...oh my I've forgotten her name...the blonde one who was so sweet ...married to the other characters ex- boyfriend...


esthermarie I thought the book was great! Just going to put that out there.:D


Mskarla I guess the tactful response for me is to say that I didn't find it fabulous and life changing, but can't answer for how others responded to it. I liked it. I didn't LOVE it. I really liked some of the characters, and I found the glimpse of life at that period in the South to be fascinating. I think many people enjoy having their awareness about issues raised while being entertained.
I could name ten books (at least) that I've read this year that I liked much more. So for me, yes, it's overrated. I guess if most people feel it's wonderful, then in general it's not overrated. Btw, LOVED the comment about the reader not living up to the book's potential!


message 7: by Amanda (last edited Nov 09, 2011 09:23AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amanda I didnt like it. I thought the characters were stock borrowed from books long since forgotten in the age of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. It was a fine book, but not a great book.


message 8: by Sharlene (new) - added it

Sharlene I really, really liked it. However, I'm not sure I have read any fiction that was "life-changing". I thought it was pretty much true to life for the south during that time period.


message 9: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Davis I agree but if younger people, ie who didn't live through the 1960s or who haven't read any of the literature from that era about race, THE HELP could be very enlightening.


Michele I don't consider it life-changing but definitely in my top ten!


message 11: by Zulfiya (last edited Nov 09, 2011 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zulfiya It is a solid four-star book. It is a good book, but it is way too early and hardly appropriate to call it 'life-changing'. If you call it a life-changing book, does it also mean that people have been blissfully unaware of Jim Crow Laws prior to reading this book. I am from Russia, but I often find that I know more about American history and culture that American citizens do. So for them it is somewhat of a Revelation, but I think people should not deprive themselves of the cultural heritage, even if it means to be aware of racial segregation as a part of their history. This books is revolutionary for them because they have never heard or known anything about it, but it is a sad environment of ignorance, which catapulted this book to its prime.
It is a fine book, but it is not what you call a true masterpiece.


message 12: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Davis Great comment, Zulfiya!!!


Zulfiya Sue wrote: "Great comment, Zulfiya!!!"

Thank you. It is a bitter comment, though.


Diana No, you're not the only one who thinks that. I think the book is a great story, but is it this phenomenal look into Black History? No. Is it this rare and exceptional view into the lives of White women and their maids...? Barely. It's a good fictional read... but nothing more than that. The second people made it more than that, the book failed.


message 15: by Sharon (last edited Nov 09, 2011 02:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sharon Like anything else, the value of a book is to the reader. It doesn't matter what anyone else felt. If it was earth-shaking in one's perception that's all that need be said. :)


Cathy DuPont Nice comment, Sue. Not sure the book was meant to be earth shaking (Sharon's observation) it was just a good book in my opinion; meant more to some than others; still, nothing to others. Fairly accurate account though and it was well written, I thought.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Zulfiya wrote: "It is a solid four-star book. It is a good book, but it is way too early and hardly appropriate to call it 'life-changing'. If you call it a life-changing book, does it also mean that people have b..."

That's exactly what I consider it to be.


Cathy DuPont I agree, and well said, Alannah and Zulfiya.


Sally I have a question, and I am not trying to be a troll.

Why does anyone care if someone agrees with you on your take of a book? Obviously, out of all the people that have read it, some might find it unworthy of even one star, while others find it a stellar five stars. I just don't understand the need to ask the question, "does anyone find this book a disappointment like me?"

I think maybe beginning the discussion as to why you were disappointed or thought it was excellent might lend to better discussion.

Thoughts? Ideas?


Sally I found The Help to be excellent because growing up in a large city, I witnessed discrimination first hand and could relate to many of the scenes in the book through personal experience.


Cathy DuPont Sally, good point. Sure started a good discussion of opinions though. Also, my apology for error on last comment...meant to say Zulfiya.


Sally Cathy wrote: "Sally, good point. Sure started a good discussion of opinions though. Also, my apology for error on last comment...meant to say Zulfiya."

Cathy, yes, a good discussion on opinions and I will say this thread is a bit more behaved than others that began along these same lines. Sometimes, when the topic is so broad, there is no real focus. I find it most helpful if someone tells me why they didn't like a particular book. I've read other discussion where people write, "I thought that book was crap," but never say why.


message 23: by Colin (new) - added it

Colin This is one of my favorite books ever. It didn't change my life per se, but it really touched me and made me think. That's all.


Robert Delikat The edition I read/listened to was from Audible. It was narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell. Sometimes books on Audible are made to seem better by the narrator(s) and sometimes not so much. In this case, I believe the narration made the book stellar. I just checked the entry on Audible's website and find that 16,223 members gave the book 5/5 stars… not bad. I loved the book. It did not change my life but did help to enrich it.

You say in your review that you kept waiting for something monumental to happen. Life for me is about every step of the journey and not its deadly conclusion or milestones along the way. For me, this book was incredible from beginning to end. Knowing of the bigotry that still exists in our country and the world, I hoped that the book might enlighten some and yes, maybe even change their lives and those of others for the better. Maybe not so much but who knows.

I do not think that the book was overrated. Many teachers have lists of required reading for their students. While I dislike the word "required," I think that The Help should be required reading for kids growing up.


Michael It was a very good book 8 out of ten, not overrated to me.


Sharon Robert wrote: "The edition I read/listened to was from Audible. It was narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell. Sometimes books on Audible are made to seem better by the narrat..."

Robert wrote: "The edition I read/listened to was from Audible. It was narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell. Sometimes books on Audible are made to seem better by the narrat..."

Excellent comment, Robert! You said it all.


message 27: by Mona (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mona I think it depends on your expectations. I read it when it first came out and no one was really talking about it yet, so it was a nice surprise to hit upon just a really good book. I loved every minute of reading it. Then, with all the hype that came, I'm sure people who picked it up after that were expecting the "best book they ever read", which it probably wasn't, but I'm sure they really liked it. Just my two cents.. :)


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

Judy I also read it prior to all the hype hitting. I was actually telling people "you must read this book". For me, an excellent book is one that pulls me into the stories and evokes strong emotions toward the characters (positive or negative) and this book did that. I couldn't put it down. I read purely for enjoyment and escape (learning is optional but a plus) and this book provided all of the above. A strong 5 and in my top ten for sure!


Miranda  Knowles Yup your the only one.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

I thought the book definitely was overrated. I read it when it was first released, giving the author an A for effort and a C for execution.


Grace I enjoyed the book although it was written in a style that I didn't particularly like which I felt made it difficult to read at times. The subject matter is an important one.
The book brought home to me how, just 40 odd years ago how life was in Southern America, which when you think about it isn't all that long ago.
I gave this 4 stars on my rating.


message 32: by Suzan (last edited Nov 14, 2011 03:10PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Suzan G I thought this was highly over rated and gave the housekeeper very little dig ity when she created the poop pie and the author made such a gigantic issue of it.
The housekeepers had every reason to create a pie like this ,but I as an author would have given them a more dignified tactic since American Blacks and Native Americans have the most dignity on this planet after having been relatively non-violent in their dealing with whites (historically) here for centuries.
A great therory for a book,poorly executed.


Suzan G Dignity,not dig ity :)


message 34: by Vera (new) - rated it 4 stars

Vera I thought the book was fun. I really enjoyed reading it with my friends but it's not life changing or the best book ever. And I thought the pie was really funny!! Regardless of dignity.


Martin It's overrated and demonstrably so; let me demonstrate. The Help has more than 220,000 ratings with an average of 4.46. Go Down, Moses has 2,800 and a 3.87 average. The Bluest Eye with 32,000 and 3.83. Beloved with 59,000 and 3.68. A Lesson Before Dying with 10,000 and 3.74.A Raisin in the Sun with 11,000 and 3.59. All books that feature the racial divide in the US and all include the experience of black domestics working for white employers. Does anyone really think that Stockett is as good as Faulkner, Morrison, Gaines, or Hansberry or that she has more insight into racisim in the US?


Sharon Oh, give me a break!! Your analysis is terrific, but reading is a personal experience. I don't read anything for the name of the author! :)


Martin Nor do I and I'm not a literary snob, but the question asks if the book is overrated and it is. You also made a judgement about its quality, so it's not fair to fall back on reading being a personal experience.


Sharon YOU judged the book to be overrated....isn't that a "personal" opinion also....no matter who has given it?


message 39: by Martin (last edited Nov 14, 2011 03:24PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Martin Not really. My judgement is based on what I know of the qualities that make good writing. And while I 'personally' express that judgement it's not a simple matter of liking or disliking. I don't like brocolli and that's a matter of personal preference, but I don't judge it. Of course, you're free to like what you want. I would never disagree with that, but why enter into a public discussion if all you wanted to do was say you like something?


Sharon Martin....you are over-thinking life!


Martin That's a pretty dismissive remark. I think what I think and you can like what you like.


Kellymcct I loved the book. My life has changed in no way. I loved it because the characters were charming in a away that made me want to keep listening (audible). I cheered for skeeter, loved to hate Hilly, and was touched by the connection between the children and the help. When I want deep social commentary, I will pick up some non-fiction. Until then, I really enjoyed the Help on it's own merit. I do not think the book is overrated.


Jojo119 Alannah wrote: "Okay, I know this book was really good and all, but there's people who consider it "life-changing" and "the best book they've ever read".

I felt as if it didn't live up to its potential. I was w..."
i agree
it did really leave you hangin in the dnd but it was a really good book


Marietta Alannah wrote: "Okay, I know this book was really good and all, but there's people who consider it "life-changing" and "the best book they've ever read".

I felt as if it didn't live up to its potential. I was w..."


You might say that about any book that you didn't think was good enough for Hollywood to pick up and make a movie out of. That's your opinion and you are allowed to have it.


Tracey Alannah I finished this book last week and I totally, absolutely agree with you. I was waiting for something huge to happen - with Skeeters mum or the guy she was dating or something but nothing did.I enjoyed it a lot but I wanted to love, love it. Perhaps the older you get the more you read and the greater your expectations :) Definately one of my top books this year but not one of my top books ever. Unfortunately I have been reading a lot of classics and older literature and they stand the test of time for a reason but also I find they make some modern fiction look light weight - sorry just my opinion.


Marietta Martin wrote: "It's overrated and demonstrably so; let me demonstrate. The Help has more than 220,000 ratings with an average of 4.46. Go Down, Moses has 2,800 and a 3.87 average. The Bluest Eye with 32,000 and 3..."

220.000 reads? More than all the other books you've listed combined. I guess it's getting it's message out that "You is kind, you is smart, you is important", no matter how demeaned and unworthy your white mama or the world makes you feel and you can hold your head up and overcome it all.

Those of us who had "help" and outside bathrooms, (although there was never any overt discussion about getting them like in book) and I can name a couple hundred I know right now, probably got more out of this book than some people.

Kudos to Ms. Stockett for writing about race issues when many of us are tired of reading about the past and just want to move forward. It was an teary eye-opener for me and I'm sure for many others of something that was buried in the past of what we did to our friends and may have caused pain. They are dead and gone and there is no going back.


Sharon It was an eye-opener to me. I, naively, thought all that had been left in the past....with "Gone With the Wind"!


Joanne markopoulos Alannah wrote: "Okay, I know this book was really good and all, but there's people who consider it "life-changing" and "the best book they've ever read".

I felt as if it didn't live up to its potential. I was w..."

I totally agree! I truly didnt understand the hype! I liked the book! BUT not my fav!


Bonnie Alannah wrote: "Okay, I know this book was really good and all, but there's people who consider it "life-changing" and "the best book they've ever read".

I felt as if it didn't live up to its potential. I was w..."


I did. I thought the characters were not well developed or realistic. They were too good, too bad, too silly, too passive etc. I could predict how each scene would end before I was far into it. I did like it, but not as much as I had been led to expect I would.


message 50: by Martin (last edited Nov 15, 2011 02:38PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Martin Marietta wrote: 220.000 reads? More than all the other books you've listed combined. I guess it's getting it's message out that "You is kind, you is smart, you is important", no matter how demeaned and unworthy your white mama or the world makes you feel and you can hold your head up and overcome it all.


I don't think popularity is a measure of quality. Some snobs would argue that popularity is, in fact, a sign that something is inferior since it must appeal to the least common denominator of an audience. I wouldn't go that far, but to suggest that "The Help" is better than the books I listed, two by Nobel Prize winners, is, at least, uncharitable.
I'll grant that it's populartiy is probably a good thing since, on balance, more people will be thinking about racism in the US more seriously. But I don't think this book's view on racism is particularly helpful. And you point out one of the reasons why. You're moved by Aibileen's encouragement of Mae, and it is touching, but why should we turn our focus from the very potent oppression of blacks during Jim Crow to sympathize with a priveledged white child. She, after all, will go to the best schools, have every opportunity open for her and she'll be able to pay a therapist for the years of therapy she's going to need. What rich opportunities will there be for Minny's kids?


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