Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

As our book club organizer and lover of books, The Help by Kathryn Stockett hit the top of my list for the richest discussion book for our group in 2010.  I am glad it was made into a movie for all those souls who don't or won't read the book, but I just can't imagine that the movie could be better than the book.  On the other hand, I will never be able to judge because I've read the book and all the suspense and surprises have been reveled to me.

This great book is extraordinarily rich in character development, with a width of characters spanning black and white, caring and deviously racist, selfless and self serving, all working to spin Stockett's tale about a young journalist, Skeeter, who is writing an undercover story about the maids in Jackson Mississippi in the early 1960's.  Skeeter's story is great, but the stories about the maids are real page turners. I can't recommend this book enough. 

This is a setting and era that many of us need to be reminded of with a clear nonprejudicial mind.  Though this is a story taking part in the historical era of Jim Crow Laws, at a time where many white people believed with all their hearts that black people were less intelligent, and not deserving of simple human considerations (such as using the same toilet as they, or drinking from the same water fountain, or sitting in an adjacent bus seat), we need to also be understanding to the era of ignorance.  However, I can't seem to extend any amount of understanding to some of the hateful destructive women in this novel.

Many white people did not know better, just as many people today are victims of their own background and ignorance.  We can move these issues to the year 2011, where this is not a white problem, but a problem that spans races.  It is a problem of poor education, socio-economic challenges and deep cultural prejudice.  Today, "The Help" comes in many shades of colors, so we should take a lesson of humanity away from this book.  In other words, we are all human and deserve to be treated as such.

I have discussed one of many issues touched in this book.  However, read this book and you will have incredible diverse discussion material.  Read this and you won't be able to put it down.  This book will always have a place in my private library.