Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Glimpse of Southern Living

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Towards the end of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" Miss Skeeter says, "There is so much you don't know about a person." That information is not earth shattering - we all know it, and yet so many of the problems in our day-to-day lives center around the fact that we forget that we don't know everything about everybody. Everyone has a story - a reason why they do what they do. "The Help" lets us see not only the importance of each individual's story, but also how our stories bleed, bend, and fold into others' stories in ways that we can never anticipate.

Stockett's novel takes place during the early 60s and centers around the lives of Southern women and the lines that seemingly divide who has control over whom. It is a story about love - the love of one's self, the love of a child, the love of an ideal. It is also a story about flawed perceptions and how living by those flawed perceptions can crush others. Stockett's details are beautiful - you can smell Minny's perfect caramel cake, feel Abileen's worn hands reach out to hug you, and hear the clicks of Skeeter's nimble fingers moving over the typewriter keys.

The story is not perfect - the ending is not entirely fulfilling, but somehow it is more realistic that way. Stories about the 1960s rarely are fulfilling. American society was drowning in conflict and dissenting voices. Still Stockett doesn't dwell so much on "shoulda beens," but shows us what we can be and how much potential we have through narrators that start to find their own paths. Even though uncertainty looms and darkness sometimes seems sure to overshadow light, Stockett shows that there is always reason to hope. And being reminded of that hope is always something worthy of cheering about.

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Becca said...

I loved this book when I totally didn't expect to. The characters were just so real and wonderful.

Julie said...

Listening to and loving this book right now. I'm not really sure why I can't put it down (well, turn it off) I just love the characters and the voices on the audiobook are delicious! I love your book reviews!