I have been planning on reading The Help for about a year. It was recommended by another book loving mother at Word Nerd Teen’s ballet school, so I put it on a sticky note and added it to the ever growing collection of “to be read”.
I was in no rush until it was announced that The Help would be the first book in the newly formed book club at our local public library. Suddenly, The Help was the hottest title in our home. (See Word Nerd Teen’s review here.)
I immediately felt a connection with one of the main characters, Skeeter. In her early 20′s, she is too tall and too skinny for clothing to properly fit. Her teeth are perfect, her nose less so and her frizzy blonde hair fair from it. She is slightly spoiled, but unaware, since she has never known things to be any other way. Words and stories are more important to her than any person. Should I be getting royalties? That sounds an awful lot like early 20′s Word Nerd….
Alternating the point of view between Skeeter and “the help”, this book explores the relationship between black maids and their white mistresses in 1960′s Mississippi. It also a bit of a coming of age story for Skeeter as she is suddenly aware that the world outside her front door is a little different than she has been led to believe.
I usually do not like to read books that employ heavy use of dialect, especially Southern dialect. I love the stories of Twain, but reading his works– that is tortuous. However, Kathryn Stockett did an amazing job of allowing you to “hear” the difference between the social groups, without creating a distraction for the reader. I do not know if the voice was accurate, but it certainly felt believable.
When a friend asked if I enjoyed this book, I could only answer, ”Yes and no.” I wanted to like this book and for the most part, I did. I was distracted by the liberties taken with the historical timeline to make certain things fit in the book. Most of the time I wouldn’t notice such a thing, but through our homeschool adventures I recently had a refresher on the 1960′s. So, I noticed.
I was not happy with the end of the book. I can’t say much more without spoiling it for those yet to read The Help. I didn’t expect everything to wrap up in a nice bow, but I did expect the characters to remain true to the faces they had shown. They did not.
My verdict: Read it. It is a very good book…until the very end, when it becomes simply a good book. I believe there is much more story to be told, and I hope Kathryn Stockett will take up her pen and finish the journey.