Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Like many people, I've got a stack of books that I've purchased because I saw them listed in a newspaper article, watched an interview of the writer on television, or read a blurb here and there somewhere on the Internet.  Lately it seems my stack of books is growing faster than my ability to read them and if you recall an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago titled How to Read 12 Novels a Year in Your Spare Time, I've tried to re-focus and re-commit to reading. 
The 2010 "Finished Stack"

This morning I finished reading the last 120 pages of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which is the first novel in my 12-in-12 attempt that started on August 1st.  There's a section of our local Sunday newspaper that lists the Top 5 New York Times Best Sellers for Hardcover Fiction and this book has been on it for several months.  I picked it up a couple months ago and put it in "the stack". 

The book is 451 pages, but don't let that keep you from reading it.  It might take an extra day or two to finish it, but it's worth it.

The HelpThe Help reminds me a little bit of Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, another book that is set in Mississippi.  Whereas Mudbound is an in your face account with more agressive language, The Help is somehow softer.  Both books deal with civil rights issues from the perspectve of women living in Mississippi, with the time frames separated by three decades.

The Help is written in the voice of Aibeleen, Minnie, and Skeeter.  Aibeleen and Minnie work for two of Skeeter's best childhood friends.  After returning from college at Ole Miss, Skeeter begins to understand that she no longer identifies with her friends the way she once did and she comes to realize that it's because of the way they treat their maids.

I was bracing for a harsher, edgier ending - maybe even violent - but in the end Stockett took a higher road.

Read more about Kathryn Stockett on her website.

And if you have 4 minutes, here's a video interview Katie Couric did with Kathryn Stockett that provides a little more background on the book and the author.

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