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Friday, July 10, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett~★★★1/2

Author: Kathryn Stockett
Title: The Help
Release Date: February 10th, 2009
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Date: Fiction

Book Jacket: "Twenty-two-year old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted insider her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, through she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. and sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women---mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends---view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't."

Taryn's Review: I know that this book has rave reviews from many people, and I do agree it's a good book, but that's all it is for me...a good book. The book was missing something; some magic that would make my heart intertwine with the characters in the book.

There were parts in the book that were just too easily placed in the plot to stir things up. When Skeeter forgot her satchel containing damning evidence of what she was up to, I rolled my eyes. If I were Aibileen or Minny, I would have quit right then because obviously Skeeter never grasped the grave impact her mistake could have had on their lives.

And let's not forget Stuart. Why was Stuart even a part of this book? The entire Stuart/Skeeter plot line could have been left out and the book would have been perfectly fine. It just didn't line up well with the rest of the book.

The way Skeeter dove into the topic that she tackled was noble given the political climate of the time, yet I don't feel like she really suffered much backlash despite others suspecting it was her. She also introduced Elizabeth and Hilly early on in the novel as being her best friends since childhood but she doesn't really mourn the loss of either woman when they are all no longer friends (and it seemed as if those two had been her only friends).

Most of the characters are very stereotypical. Aibileen is the sweet, caring, loving maid who was willing to talk to Skeeter and had a very Mammy-like attitude toward the child she cared for. Minny was the loud, boisterous, back-talking maid who doubted Skeeter, but oddly Minny didn't take her personality home with her and suffered at unmerciful hands of her husband. Skeeter's mama is the stereotypical Southern lady who just wanted her daughter to look pretty and get a husband. Hilly was the monsterous, vengeful, racist epitome of the white Mississippian Junior League lady.

Stockett is a good writer. The book was an easy read and the idea of the book was interesting. However, I think Stockett has a lot of room for improvement in her books to take them up to the next level.

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