Why I bought it? Several friends had recommended it, and I'd heard a lot of buzz online about it, so I downloaded it to my Kindle.
Synopsis: Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, the book follows the lives of 3 women, two black maids, Aibilene and Minny, and one white woman newly graduated from college, Skeeter. In alternating chapters each woman tells her own story. Eventually, they come together to work on a super-secret project--one that exposes the hidden lives of the well-to-do whites, and, of course, fallout ensues.
What I thought? I enjoyed this book immensely. I found the way the dialect was written at the beginning very off-putting, but after a while I got used to it. (A friend said that she had listened to it on CD and that the reading was wonderful--which would take care of the crazy spellings, etc. If I had it to do over again, I'd listen to it.) That said, the dialect itself was spot on, and, having grown up in the south, I'm a hard one to fool on southernisms. The food (oh my gosh, it made my mouth water), the weather, the names (I even had a friend in high school whose nickname was Skeeter), the set up of the houses, the interaction of the classes and races was all well done. It's obvious the author knows the south.
The characters are so engrossing that the book is very hard to put down. There's tons of humor and plenty of poignant moments, too. These characters have stayed with me even though sometimes I wish there had been more rounding out of the white characters. (I know there were plenty of mean white women with maids and insensitive ones and oblivious ones, but there were also kind ones and ones that were mean sometimes and kind other times. It would have been nice to see more of those.) A great first book for this author and a nice one for book clubs.
My rating: **** out of 5. Up until about 3/4 of the way through, it was 4 1/2 to 5, but I feel like Skeeter's story got the bum's rush at the end. I still recommend it highly because her story wasn't my favorite part. I loved the tales from "the help." They were priceless, and I wouldn't be surprised if every single one of them really happened somewhere.
Cleanness Score: 5 out of 10, This is kind of vague in my head because it was back in January that I read it, but I don't remember anything very offensive. There was some physical abuse and language and a lot of adult themes, but this is another book intended for grown ups that teens could easily read.
FYI: They are making a movie of it that will be out next year. It will be interesting to see how they put it on the big screen.