The Help

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I know this book isn’t on the list, but since I’m reading Of Mice and Men at the same time, I figured I could get away with it.

From the very first sentence something felt off about this book.  It took me to chapter three to realize what it was:  It felt inauthentic.  This story is being told from the perspective of black housemaids in the 60’s in Mississippi, but a quick Google search immediately explained my discomfort with the story’s feel.  This is a picture of the author, Kathryn Stockett:

StockettSomehow I don’t think she has a clue what it’s like to be a servant, much less a black one in the 60’s.  Upon further research, it appears her former housekeeper and nanny didn’t think so either.  Aside from the lawsuit, the audacity of the author to attempt such a task, and the racist undertones trickling from the pages – it’s actually quite a good story.  It’s engaging and daring, and aside from some annoying cliches (she was as black as night), really quite riveting.  Damn it.  I kind of wanted to hate this book.

That said, it is exactly what I expected, as I’ve seen the vast majority of middle-aged white women reading it on the beach, in restaurants, and in Starbucks city-wide; it’s obviously a book “for the  masses,” and while I haven’t yet degraded my senses enough to read 50 Shades of  Grey, I imagine these two authors would make amazing penpals.

This is a guilty pleasure book.  It took me all of a week to plow through it, and admittedly it was impossible to put down.  The story transitions back and forth between four different narrators, which the author fulls off flawlessly, embodying each character with seamless transition.  Without spoiling the ending, I will say it was anticlimactic, especially given how well the author paced the story throughout, but it just may be that the story was so engaging I felt I could have read it forever.  

Overall this is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend – just don’t think too hard about the author.

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