Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday=Book Review Time--Another impressive debut novel

Up for today: The Help by Kathryn Stockett (This review requested by Mary Kay.)


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.

17 comments:

Patti Lacy said...

I LOVED this book and so connected with the stories, which I could relate to my own teenaged years in Louisiana.

It's hard to believe a debut writer got SO MANY things right.
Plot, moral premise, characters, voice. ESPECIALLY voice.

Patti

Yat-Yee said...

I read this book a while back and I found the voice of Skeeter to be the least compelling and her story least engaging. I loved the other two narrator characters much more and feel as if I could understand their emotions and motivations a lot better.

Susan R. Mills said...

I've heard so many good things about this book. It's on my list.

Danyelle said...

Love your review! :) I've seen this book floating around the Internet a lot. I'll have to check it out. I love the premise! :D

Cortney said...

I loved this book too. I love it when an author can make me connect with almost every character in the book. I just sent it to my sister to read.

T. Anne said...

I read it a few months back as well and enjoyed it!

Piedmont Writer said...

I am absolutely dying to read this book. Maybe by Christmas.

Jackee said...

An awesome book! I didn't know about the movie version in the making, though. Thanks for that! I'm off to check it out....

Carolyn V. said...

Great review! I need to put that one on my tbr list. I'm afraid that list is a mile long, but it sounds good. =D

Tess said...

I don't know a single person who read this book and didn't LOVE it. It's fantastic. Really, really fantastic.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I've heard only good things about this book--thanks for another good review. I think I'm going to have to put this on my Christmas list :)

Jessie Oliveros said...

This was a book club selection which I didn't actually read, but listened to everyone talk about instead. (I know I cheated.) It's my next adult to-read book.

Samantha Vérant said...

Sounds like a great read. Another one for my list. Thankfully, I'll be State side for Thanksgiving. I'm planning on going a little mental in the book store.

Patti said...

I'm a big fan of audio books, so I'll try to get this one.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Ohh! I've been wanting to check this one out. I didn't know they were making a movie of it.

Jude said...

I'll have to check it out from the library again. I started reading but couldn't finish it before the due date! *embarrassment*!

also, the comment word verification sounds funny: pherb

hee hee

Heidi Willis said...

The HELP is on my list to read. In fact, it's sitting on the top of my pile, and the first one I'll read once I finish the books by my grad school faculty. I've heard such great things about it.

Very good review!