2010. 97. The Help

"Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August, 1960."

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

    I was possibly the last person on earth to read this book, which has been hanging out on the NY Times bestseller list since forever, and I finally caved when I went to the new finally reopened Georgetown Library and saw it sitting there - as if its “no longer on the library waitlist status” was a red flag that I should grab it while the reading was good.  And I have to say, I am pleased I read it.  This is definitely a “solidly well written novel somehow catches the public fancy” type NY Times bestseller, rather than a “totally drecky DaVinci Code” type book.  It reminds me of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter in that I discounted it because it seemed like a “mom” book (and yo, I am now a mom of two, so mayhaps I shouldn’t be slagging on moms in anyway!), but found out it was a pretty great read.  Not perfect, perhaps, but enjoyable as hell.

     The novel is set in 1960s Alabama, and focuses on the black maids who basically raise the white children - and the white children they raise.  Stockett writes about that world in a way that convinces you that this is what is was like, the good (the love that the women feel for the children) and the very, very bad (all that institutional and personal racism).  What is nice is that she manages to tell a story about how consciousnesses were raised without making it into one big lecture - she has something to say about the way life was then, but does it with real characters.  On paper the novel could so easy be stock and preachy, but Stocketts characters seem like real people, which saves and elevates the novel. And if I’m a little uncomfortable about  the issue of a white woman writing the story of black women (which I am, a bit), I think Stockett is as aware as anyone could be of the issues that raises.  

Categories:  Fiction, Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017