Thursday, December 29, 2011

My first Book Review (may contain some spoilers!)- The Help

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to make a conscious effort to read more. I decided to start a little early when the movie "The Help" was showing in theatres. I heard about this book a long while back and it's been on my list of things the read I "just never got around to it." (I know, lame!) I absolutely adore Emma Stone and I knew I had to watch the movie, but I really wanted to read the book first because movies don't ever give you all the details you need. A few weeks ago I broke down and downloaded The Help e-book for my iPad.

The way the book begins really sets the scene for the whole story. Some books take a while to get in to, where you're actually visualising the people and the setting, not this one. Aibileen starts speaking, and you listen intently and automatically imagine a full figured, strong, black woman in the South. Even her name is strong and wise! As you read through the chapter your imagination floods as all the key people are described almost too abruptly but necessarily. The South is always described through the eyes of the white Southerner and it's refreshing to get a different take on what was happening. There are some characters who you are unable to stand right from the start. You can just hear the shrill, haughty, put out voices of women who never had to lift a finger. There are also some characters you love instantly like Mae Mobley because of the sincerity of their character and what they represent in the story. The book leaves you hopeful about the futures of these characters.

Another cool thing about the book is the way the chapters skip from one person's point of view to the next. Time frames are not strictly followed in the book and I found myself back tracking a few pages to realize what amount of time had passed and how long certain parts of the story took place. This isn't necessarily a con, and I think it was done on purpose to highlight the highs and lows of the book.

One thing I will note as a con even though it might be my own fault is that I was expecting something POWERFUL. I was expecting a gigantic, disturbing, "change it all" twist in the story because the whole book hints towards a huge climax and I never really found one. The book definitely has some intense moments and "Wow!" factors but nothing really shocked me, or rattled me, or disturbed me as much as I wanted it to, I guess. I really would have expected a bigger scandal in the Phelan family having to do with Constantine and why Skeeter's mother fired her. I feel the book would have made a bigger impact if it took a tour down a dark alley and told some really dark secret of the South which we now know to be true (i.e. sexual relationships between hired help and their employers...sometimes even forced, verbal and physical abuse of the help by employers) With the absence of something equally as disturbing the book is kept semi-light hearted.

 You definitely feel for the maids in this book, you feel their love for the children they sit, and even the sensitivity they have to some of the people they work for. The friendships formed without boundaries in this book are also touching.

Overall, I would say this was a good read. It left me hoping for a little more intensity but never the less, I enjoyed it and definitely found value in the story.


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