Reading “The Help” was a very interesting experience for me. It has been awhile since I read anything that was really substantial. I have been reading mostly candy books. You know the kind of book that you enjoy while you’re reading but don’t spend much time discussing because it was such an easy read? It took me a few chapters to get into the book…and since I was reading it on my kindle and I usually only read my kindle during my lunch break this took more time than it should have. Once I really got into the book I could barely put it down.
The author uses different characters to tell her story–an approach that allows the audience to know what everyone is thinking at different intervals during the book. I am a big fan of this technique and am testing it out myself. The basic plot of the novel is that one character “Skeeter” is trying to become a writer and decides that she wants to put together a collection of stories from different black maids in her town. The novel goes into the minds of all these different woman, black and white, and tells each person’s story. I don’t want to give too much of the novel away…so that is where I am going to stop my description.
While I was reading the book I did spend a lot of time getting angry. (I pour my emotions into books and over-identify with characters, something I am trying to work on). There was so much going on in the book that I am well aware actually happened/does happen as far as racism goes but what Stockett does with her book is she puts you in the middle of it. During the book we hear perspectives of rich white ladies, the woman working on the book nicknamed “Skeeter”, and the black maids with whom Skeeter is working with.
What I don’t really understand is how there was a time when people were convinced that black people carried diseases that were very contagious, so much so that all that “separate but equal” bulllshit emerged. The question I kept asking myself is, if white people were so afraid of sharing bathrooms and water fountains and such…why was it okay that their food was cooked by black people and their children were cared for by black people?
Would I recommend this book to a friend? Yes. I think that Stockett put together a book that is accessible to a wide audience first of all and secondly, her novel makes you think.