Read: Another one that was highly recommended by everyone. (Amy Einhorn Books, 464 pages, originally published February 2009)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (finished 11/21/10)
Synopsis (from Publisher’s Weekly): What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn’s new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams.
Overall Impression: Hi. My name is Cori, and I might be the last book blogger on the planet to read The Help.
This was a beautiful book. It was an especially beautiful audio book. I appreciated the three readers’ ability to nail Stockett’s dialect — the characters were really brought to life because of their narration. The Help has both a interesting plot and beautiful characters. I’ve heard some criticism of the black women being the Mammy sort of character from Gone with the Wind, but I think that is an oversimplification. Both Aibileen and Minny (the two black maids) have their own motivations and strengths and weaknesses. They also have very real fears, which I thought Stockett brought out very successfully. Skeeter, the white woman in the story, was portrayed very well as she worked through her own prejudices. The relationships between the characters are wonderful as well, as each works through what is “supposed” to happen vs. what is actually happening. Stockett’s writing is very evocative, and she created beautiful (but not overdone) descriptions of people and places and things. Quite a lovely and uplifting novel — highly recommended. I can’t believe this is the first novel — it feels like Stockett’s been writing novels forever.
Pros: Characters, plot, setting, dialogue…all were really well done.
Cons: There was one chapter in the middle that was written in the third person and narrated by a different audio book reader. This particular chapter, while it furthered the plot, felt inconsistent with the rest of the book.
Other blogger opinions:
My Books, My Life: “Stockett does a wonderful job capturing the voice of each narrator – Skeeter’s restlessness, Aibileen’s sadness, Minny’s tenacity – and capturing what their lives are like.”
An Adventure in Reading: “It was a high interest, easy read, with well developed characters and a plot that flew along, perfect for a late night.”
Bookishly Fabulous: “Stockett is one of the rare authors who have a strong ear for dialect.”
Books, the Universe, and Everything: ”I expected the ending to be sadder than it was, but that’s not a criticism.”
Word Lily: “Filled with triumphs and moments of deep sadness, The Help is ultimately a hope-filled story.”
Other books I’ve ready by Kathryn Stockett: none (another debut novel)