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A Personal Take on The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Rantings of a Single Girl's Book Club: The Help

Here's an excerpt from OnSugar blog Rantings of a Single Girl.

The Help had been suggested by several people for me to read, but I just hadn't picked it up yet. So when y'all started suggesting it for the Book Club, I decided that would be my next pick. After reading the book in 2 days, I'm so happy that it was suggested.

I can't even begin to tell you how much this book hit home with me. At first I thought Stockett wouldn't have any idea about what she's writing about. I've found most authors who try to write about the South and racial struggles (who aren't from the South) can't do it. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, MS.  Even if I didn't know she was, I would have been able to tell from her writing.  The beauty of how she described Mississippi was so wonderful to read.

While I wasn't around in 1960s Mississippi, my father was.  I can still hear his stories about the desegregation of schools and so on. I can still hear the anger in his voice when he talks about those times . . . and unfortunately that anger is a racial anger. He was raised to believe that people of color were not equal to him. My grandparents taught him that black people were quite literally the help.


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starangel82 starangel82 7 years
THAT'S THE OTHER QUOTE THAT I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!!!! Thank you sy! I can quit looking now. And yes, I feel the exact same way about Mississippi. Kind of like when they'd say no one else could talk bad about 'their white woman' because they had the rights. I say it as 'Lawd' too. That's how they said it in Gone With The Wind anyway... I kept having trouble seeing Minny as the stout, short woman they were talking about. I kept seeing a tall, skinny woman who could surprise you with her strength. Maybe it was the name 'Minny' that kept leading me to think that. It was Abileen that I kept picturing as more like Mammy in GWTW.
syako syako 7 years
Yea me too. The first few times I read it I was thinking, what is she talking about?
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
I always hear it as "Lawd"
syako syako 7 years
Oh and one last thing (for now at least) I cringed every time I ready "Law" Really? Law? For Lord? I don't know about that. I've never heard it pronounced like Law.
syako syako 7 years
Ok and on to the questions! Do you think Skeeter would have been able to find her sense of independence without writing Help? My instinct is to say no. But now that I think about it, she might have moved elsewhere in the South without writing the book and gotten a job at a paper or somewhere and had "an independent" life but still pretty traditional in the Southern sense. -What was your favorite quote from the book? My favorite quote actually is from the afterword of the book. I could substitute Louisiana for Mississippi and it'd be like something I've always said: "Mississippi is like my mother. I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person who raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too." -Random question, but will you be seeing the movie? Probably not. Maybe I'd check out from the library and watch it when my hubby's traveling. I kept imagining Minny as Queen Latifah though. :)
syako syako 7 years
Ok I just finished. I felt like I've read this book 100 times. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing (maybe it's a timeless tale?) but as I read it I just keep thinking of how all through my school years, books about segregation were all I ever read. Whether it was assigned by my teacher or something I sought out myself, this topic has just been done. a lot. Now that's not a terrible thing. And, I actually enjoyed reading the book. It was an engaging story and it held my attention the whole time. I agree that the accents were pretty bad and there was no continuity. I also feel like the character development was a little forced. All of a sudden Skeeter starts wearing mini dresses? It was just things like that that made me not really feel like we had growth. Sure the last chapter wraps it all up and suddenly everyone has moved on and are better people, but it just was a little jerky for me and not very believable. I'm glad I read it though. I loved the talk about Maison Blanche (I miss that place!) and other LSU references (Geaux Tigers!).
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
I agree about the continuity in accent. That was actually something I read in several reviews. And several interviews. She never gave a clear cut answer as to why she didn't use Southern-ism and accents for the white people. She did say she wrote it from the perspective of her maid, but that wouldn't change how white people spoke. So I don't know....
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
Yeah when I was reading the negative Amazon reviews they were basically all the same and fit into 2 categories: 1) No continuity in accent. This I actually do agree with to some extent. The help spoke in that folksy, Southern black way (and some said to a stereotypical extent) but the white girls had no accent at all?? I mean not even ONE Y'all in the entire book! 2) Can't be realistic, accurate, or even a good book because it's about black people and written by a white girl. Ugh. Not even going to get into that.
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
Realistic isn't a requirement for fiction either. It was still a good book. And it hit home for me. That's all that matters, really.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 7 years
Can't wait to hear your take on it, Sy! And I agree, Haus - does it matter how "realistic" it was? The story was well-written and engaging - "realistic" isn't a requirement for a good book.
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
When I finished the book I read the negative reviews on Amazon and they all seemed to fall inline with HoneyBrown's comment... Luckily being realistic isn't a prerequisite for a good book.
syako syako 7 years
I didn't read th comments yet, but I just got an email from the library that the book is ready to be picked up. Woo! I'll come back once I finish it.
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 7 years
Ah, The Help! In other words, magical negresses inspire the rebellious, white girl to find herself, while putting themselves at risk on a daily basis. Please. It was so unrealistic!
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
The other thing that stuck out to me was how much work they did one day! Jeezus! I don't do that in a whole week!! Also I wish we could have heard Hilly's side. I want to know why she was the way she was. Mae Mobley was probably the character I felt saddest for.
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
Ha! That's why I asked the quote question! I had one I wanted to put in the review then completely forgot to mark it. So when I get home from work today, I plan to look it up and put it in the comments at least. I completely agree with you about Skeeter. I loved seeing her development through the book. At times I thought her character was a little dry, but meh. I made up the rest with my imagination. Still, it was nice to see her grow and grown out of the things people wanted her to be and instead became what she wanted to be. And in a sad way, there are a lot of people who still want to hold women back in the South. I'll be turning 28 in two months and a lot of older women really think it is sad and tragic that I'm not already married with one kid under my belt. Some of those same stigmas are still alive and well here. And it makes being a single woman kind of frustrating sometimes.
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
yay! the post is up! overall i really enjoyed this book. best book i've ever read? no. but i liked it and i would suggest it to others. Do you think Skeeter would have been able to find her sense of independence without writing Help? No I don't. In her own way, she was held back by society's opinion of what she should be doing. -Why do you think Minny was unable to leave Leroy? I think Minny was insecure and that's why she was so defensive. That insecurity kept her with Leroy. -What was your favorite quote from the book? Ugh I'm so mad you asked this because I LOVED this one line and I meant to write it down and I forgot! Ugh. But it's something about revenge or madness about how delicious it can be when you're in it. It was somewhere in the 200s pages I think if you want to look it up! :) -Random question, but will you be seeing the movie? I'll probably rent it.
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
Oh, I just realized how long that is... yeesh. Sorry!
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