Book Review: The Help

I went in to The Help expecting nothing but pure entertainment, not a social commentary equivalent to the impact of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. So while it is necessary to take this book with a grain of salt, I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the book. The book centers around an Ole Miss grad {a young, white woman} writing the stories of black maids and what it is like to be the help in Jackson, Mississippi during the peak of civil rights, the 1960s. I think I actually ended up finishing all 500-something pages in one day because I could not put it down. I even lent it to my sister who did the same thing, and she's not really a book person, at least not as much as I am. The characters are all fun and interesting to follow so you get sucked into their storylines {even those characters that you hate}.

{Sidenote: I read one review of this book on a different blog and her only complaint was that Skeeter's relationship with the senator's son was explored deep enough. Personally, I thought that could have been cut out completely and it still would have been a great book. Differences in book choices, I suppose.}

One complaint about the book though is that it does sugar coat relations between white and black women in the South, especially during that time. Has there been a good fiction book that really tackles those issues well? I haven't heard of one but would love to read it if it exists. Also, I think it's important to keep in mind that the author is a white woman from the South who grew up with a black maid in her home. I would definitely recommend this book to others; it's a quick, entertaining read.

I think it's incredibly interesting to hear others' opinions on it also, since my perspecitive is very different from others as I am a white woman in the Midwest. According to the Association of Black Women Historians:

"The Help’s representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy—a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families. Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs where employers routinely exploited them. The popularity of this most recent iteration is troubling because it reveals a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it."
As long as you keep those things in mind, it's a good book. Definitely not ground-breaking though. You can also read the NYTimes movie review here. I heard the movie sticks closely to the book.

Since this is such a big-seller {both in the bookstores and in the theaters}, it's also interesting to hear what people have to say about it. Especially on Twitter {sometimes your opinion actually comes out more clearly in 140 characters, and sometimes not.}:

Alison Sudol
Jenn Brown

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