Posted by: Leah | February 5, 2012

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Book Review.

You is kind. You is smart. You is important. These are the words of one of the maids from The Help, Abileen that she says to kids she raises. Some stories Abileen tells are extremely painful – witnessing child abuse and not being able to do anything, what can be worse? Losing her son. Being accused of stealing silver just because somebody wants to get rid of you. 

I think this book should be a must read in school and colleges. This book is written in the first person as a narrative of Eugenia, a white girl who is an aspiring writer, a black maid Abileen, who is particulalrly good with kids and Minny, a black maid who really can cook and a very hot-tempered! The maids tell their stories to Eugenia, and she writes her book.  The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi.

Kathryn Stockett makes you love the characters and cry and cheer with them. Abileen’s love to kids  is sometimes more than you can take, and Minny is very direct but yet inspirational.

This book is surprisingly written by a white woman in Southern dialect. I think that one does not have to be of colour to tell the story; one does not have to be Jewish to cry with the victims of Holocaust, and one does not have to be an immigrant to feel the struggles. All you need is to have a heart and eyes wide open.

The story made me feel profoundly sad and embarrassed many times while reading it. I didn’t live in Jackson, Mississipi in 60s, but I do know that certain things hurt a lot. The things such as not being invited to certain houses because you are who you are or being treated as a second-class citizen because of somebody’s  sick idea of superiority.

There is more to this story. It is not only a story of racism, but also the story of feminism and hope that things will change. Eventually.

What makes it particulalry compelling is that it has you comparing the situation in the 60s with what we have now. Yes, we now go to the same schools and shop in the same stores, and there are many mixed marriages and beaiutiful kids from these marriages. All true. But deep inside, we all know we still have a lot to work on and a lot to correct.

I also loved wisdom of the maids in the book. Here are some examples:

Constantine: “Every day you’re not dead in the ground, when you wake up in the morning, you’re gonna have to make some decisions. Got to ask yourself this question: “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?” You hear me today? “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today? You hear me today?”

Abileen: “God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free. And I got to thinking about all the people I know. And the things I seen and done.”

But most importantly, even though for some people this book is not an example of a downright classic, it is a powerful lesson in humanity, equal rights and opportunites and love, because at the end of the days we are all smart, kind and important regardsless of skin colour.

Must-read! U-huh.

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