I consider myself a voracious reader, and I’m not picky. I’ll read anything and everything, especially since I got my Kindle for Christmas. Reading has never been more fun nor books more attainable than with my Kindle. I’m obsessed with 2 things these days:
- My Kindle
- My iPhone apps
But I digress… I personally believe it is difficult to find really good books anymore. Books you don’t want to put down because you can’t wait to see how it all turns out, but also books you wish would never end. When I finish a really good book, it almost feels like a death, as if I’ve lost someone or something close to me. I know that seems morbid, and if you don’t love to read as much as I do, then maybe you don’t really understand what it is I am talking about. My point is (and I do have one) that I LOVE books and I LOVE reading, and nothing excites me more than when I stumble across a really good novel.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve heard of this little book on the NY Times Bestseller List called The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Perhaps like me you skipped over it, not sure if it was something you would be interested in reading. Well, perhaps like me, you will one day say to yourself, “self, what the heck, you might as well read this book since it seems to appear on every book club list in the world” and perhaps like me, you don’t want to be left out and want to find out what all the fuss is about. Perhaps like me, you will LOVE it.
DISCLAIMER: This isn’t meant to be a synopsis or a summary of the book. I am just attempting to leave you with my impressions of what I found to be a really terrific novel.
I downloaded the book onto my Kindle, and began to read. I was hooked from the first chapter. The book centers around the perspective of three main characters: Ms. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. The setting is Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s and during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. The Help chronicles the lives of three amazingly strong women who thought ahead of their time and had the courage to try to do something about it, make a difference in their own lives, the lives of others and the community at large. I fell in love with each of these characters, and in some way, both large and small, they reminded me of people I know.
Aibileen reminds me a bit of my own grandmother. My grandmother wasn’t African-American, nor was she a maid. But like Aibileen, she was filled with a quiet strength, a gentle love, and an unwavering faith. I don’t remember my grandmother being especially affectionate, but I never doubted she loved me with all her heart. She also didn’t have a problem telling you how she felt about something, but she seemed to find a way to do it so you found you didn’t really mind it. She would always fix my favorite foods, and I could sit for hours on her front porch with her, shelling peas and snapping greens, listening to her stories about people I didn’t know and things I probably didn’t understand, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to bask in her light and find the quiet comfort I still to this day associate with being around her. She will forever be found in the first bloom of a rose, the smell of an onion and the pages of my bible. I miss her, and I wish my children could have known her. Aibileen’s character reminds me of all of these things. I fell in love with her too.
Minny will make you laugh and break your heart simultaneously. She is a paradoxically both courageous and fearful, strong and weak. We have probably all had a Minny in our lives or known someone who did. I laughed out loud through many of her sections, and I’ll never look at Chocolate Pie in quite the same way ever again.
Skeeter. There is so much to say about Skeeter, I don’t even know where to begin. If you’ve ever been heart-broken or rejected, or felt the awkwardness of your physical appearance, or experienced at any time a difficult relationship with your mother, tried to fit in with people you didn’t even particularly like, felt left out and abandoned, or found out that someone you thought you knew, you really didn’t know at all…then you will identify with Skeeter.
And Hilly. Goodness, who hasn’t known a Hilly and wanted to rip every last hair from her nasty head! I know that probably just about everyone unfortunately can dig through their memory banks and find a Hilly. There were times when she made me so mad, I wanted to reach into my Kindle and yank her out and well….let’s just say I have a really good imagination. I had to keep reminding myself she was just a character in a book, not real.
One idea. Three women. A book I will never forget. It touched me, and I can’t say that about very many books I’ve read. For me, it will sit on the proverbial shelf next to my other favorites To Kill A Mockingbird, The Poisonwood Bible, and many many others.
So, go to the library, the bookstore or download The Help by Kathryn Stockett on your Kindle, curl up on your sofa and prepare to be whisked away to the state of Mississippi in 1962. Prepare to laugh and perhaps to cry. I’ll admit I’m not a much on crying as a general rule, but in a few places I did find myself on the verge or as my mother would say “a little wet-eye”.