August 4, 2011

Review of The Help by Kathryn Stockett

First of all, I need to get something straight--I loved this book! Loved it. It was insightful, hilarious and heartbreaking all at once. But that's not to say that I didn't have a few issues.

The best way to explain my thoughts about The Help is to discuss the characters, because more than any other book I've read--these characters are real people. Maybe it's just because I've been in the south my entire life, but I know these women.

Skeeter is determined and gusty. She reminds me of my Nana because even in a time when women aren't supposed to be heard, she is not afraid to let her voice be heard. She follows the rules and is (mostly) prim and proper, but above everything she is willing to admit that disliking someone because of their race is inexplicably wrong. Her idea of writing an anonymous book with the Jackson, MS maids to spill the dirty little secrets of these southern housewives took courage and I was proud of her willingness to rise above the norm.

Hilly is a disgusting, despicable woman. Period. Not only does she despise the maids for the color of their skin, but she forces her opinions on others in an effort to make everyone share her beliefs. Again, being from the south, I have actually encountered people like this. They're equally disgusting.

Aibilene is a beautiful soul who loves the children she keeps to their very core. She's a gentle spirit, but like Skeeter, she feels it's important to rise above the norm and embrace the differences of others. She takes on Jackson, MS one child at a time by doing her best to teach them at a young age that everyone is equal.

Minny is a tough, smart-mouthed maid who reluctantly helps Skeeter and Aibilene with the book. She's hilarious, but she can be hard as stone. It took her a long time to warm up to the idea of helping a white woman write a scandalous tell-all book, but her stories and experiences are vital.

Ok, now for my big issue. THE ENDING WAS TERRIBLE. Well, maybe not terrible, but certainly disappointing. I will admit that I like my books and movies wrapped up in pretty bows with happy endings. But I kind of felt like Stockett spent way too much time detailing what happened before the book released, then all the sudden rushed to wrap up lose ends in a hurry.

Spoiler Alert!
  • For instance, Stuart was totally out of the picture. Then BAM, he's back, they're dating and he proposes. What?!
  • Out of nowhere Minny was pregnant again, then kicked out of her house when her abusive husband finds out about the book. The last time we see her, she's just waiting on the side of the road for her sister to pick her up. Really?! Minny who was so instrumental to this book is just left on the side of the road and we never find out what happens to her?
  • Hateful Hilly gets Aibilene fired. Aibilene! We loved her the entire story, then she gets no love from Stockett. 
  • There was no justice whatsoever for the maids. I'm not saying that I expected the book the say, "And they all lived happily ever after, and there was no racism ever again." But Hilly should have gotten SOME punishment...punched in the face, divorced, yelled at, etc. I could keep going, but that wouldn't be polite.

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