It seems fitting to follow up my review of The Slap with a review of The Help, another literary global success. I've not seen the film (I'll always be a read-the-book-first kinda girl) and I was dubious about how well I'd get on with the book seeing as I don't usually go straight to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. However I enjoyed the time I spent with The Help, here's why. What's it all about? The Help by Kathryn Stockett (interestingly, a white woman from Mississippi) follows a section in the lives of two black domestic servants and one white young female graduate in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. It captures all that was unjust about that time and that situation - segregation, racism, inequality - but through these women working together on a special project, The Help aims to also share the hope and the love that existed in spite of it all.
What's so good about it? I couldn't stop reading it, and not all books have that effect on me these days. I was drawn in by the characters, fascinated by the issues, distraught at the powerlessness and disturbed that the saddest stories were loosely based on true events. The characters are full, the prose sharp and the story, which is ultimately one of hope, though controversial is worthy of everyone's time and consideration. I felt frustrated and saddened by some of the final turns in the plot, but would have been surprised had they not developed that way and ultimately this reflected the difficult and controversial time in the US civil rights movement.
Who, me? Predominantly written for women (I imagine) The Help will pull at the heart strings of anyone who has understood, experienced or encountered struggle. I advise you NOT to Google the author, the book or any of the media which surrounded the novel but just to read it for what it is; a heartfelt tale of hope and hardship.
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Frances M. Thompson
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