Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Terrible Awful Thing

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

So I've seen this book on bestsellers forever. I hate to say it, but I do judge a book by its cover. LOL. Attribute it to being a design snob. Anyway, earlier this month I read a review about this book in Entertainment Weekly (you will quickly learn, this is my holy bible of pop culture) and I couldn't believe I didn't know what this book is about and I haven't read it. And as annoying as it is, I am also one of those people who likes to read a book before a movie comes out.

The Help is about the lives of black maids in the 1960's right during the heart of Civil Rights. MLK is still alive, Rosa Parks has already happened, and they are on the brink of getting the March On Washington to happen. It centers primarily around 3 people: Aibileen, a maid; Minny, her smart mouth best friend and also a maid; and Skeeter Phelan, a fresh out of college journalism major.

It's hard to really describe what the book is about without being too wordy.  It's a book about writing a book from 3 perspectives. So let me do a short break down of each.

She's the nurturing, grandmotherly type. Tries to just do what she's told and just accepts things the way they are. All her life she's been a maid/nanny. She has worked for dozens of white families raising their kids. And when the kids get old enough, or as she puts it, starts to loose their color-blindness she moves on to another family. She's suffered a great loss with her son and tries to bounce back by working for Skeeter's good friend Elizabeth and raising her child. But after the death of her son, accepting things "the way they are" just gets harder and harder.

She is the exact opposite of Aibileen. The only thing that makes her a great maid is that she is the best cook in Jackson. But she loves to talk back and tell it like it is, no matter if they're white or black. Which has resulted her in having many jobs after getting fired for her smart comments. She did work for the mother of Skeeter's other good friend Hilly (The leader and complete bitch of the white community), but Hilly can't stand that mouth of hers and gets her fired by spreading rumors that she's a thief. Which results in her doing "The Terrible Awful Thing" that you read the whole book to find out. SO FUNNY.

Just returned home from Ole Miss and eager to write. Most of her friends went to school for their MRS degree but she actually wanted to be a writer. And why she's so different than most white people of the time. The things that are happening with race bothers her just as much as black people, though she would never tell any of her friends about these thoughts. A publisher from New York urges her to write something real and groundbreaking if she ever expects to make it as a writer and female at that. So she comes up with the idea to write a book about the good and the bad about being a maid as told from interviews with actual maids. The problem: writing this book without people finding out AND getting actual maids to tell their story in secret without losing their jobs or worse, being killed.

So with that being said, I thought it was a great book. Something everybody should read. I'm not much of a history lover, but I do admit to loving anything to do with black history and civil rights because it is apart of my history and deep in Alabama culture. And I'm even more impressed that Kathryn Stockett, a white female, could easily write the perspective of a black person and make it believable. I never once while reading it thought "no, she's got it all wrong."

Now go read it before the movie comes out! I checked out IMDB and am satisfied with the cast. Especially Emma Stone as Skeeter.

The Help: Approved

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