0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
She desribed that little world as she views it through her own eyes, Feb 12 2012
This is the only book I read by Kathryn Stockett. It was hard to start at first because English is my second language and she is using a dialect which is very interesting but it took me a little while to get used to it. I found the book quite enterntaining and well written, and I must say I liked it but I don't think it's an amazing book.
It reminded me of the books written by one great author of my home country about his childhood in the village where the simple people`s amazing wisdom and intelligence outsmarted the silly and dumb people of nobility who often had much higher education, but no wisdom. In these books, the blue blooded people mistreated the peasantry who worked for them for ridiculously low wedges, by beating them, sending them to prison, taking their children, famishing them, etc and thus keeping them under a glass ceiling by instilling fear in them.
After reading The Help I searched online for both positive and negative reviews to get different opinions. I have noticed that a majority white americans, and all those immigrants who identify with whites, love this book like it's golden, and quite a number of African Americans may find it poor or actually offending to a certain degree. I noticed the same thing going around and asking my friends of different backgrounds. Immigrants who don`t identify themselves with either parties in this book tend to also like it very much.
It was definetely written through the eyes of a white girl living in a southern American family during a certain period of time. If you read the extra found in her book at the end she actually talks about her family maid who took care of her like a mother and her own regrets about her lack of appreciation and feelings of embarasement for the inappropriate pitty she felt for the African Americans. I think that this author is not an amazing novelist all together. I think she has written a book from her perspective, where she identifies herself with the main character, Skeeter, and sends this character on an adventure that she would have liked to be on herself. It is true though that in order to be a good writer you have to be able to identify with different types of characters, including the ones that are very different, like for instance a man writing about the life of a woman and actually capturing her feelings and her anguish so well that it seems written by that woman. Kathryn Stockett doesn't write that way. Her newer novel came out but it doesn't sound to have as good reviews as the first one. I didn't read it yet. Once I do, I will have a more informed opinion on whether she is a great novelist or not.
I do feel it is a book written from one point of view, that the subject was not researched sufficiently, and I do find that the characters are a bit stereotyped.
The southern housewives are portrait in a ridiculous light at their country club having a head of the cupcake comitee; that is just hilarious. Those women had nothing to do all day, literally nothing to do, because their maids raised and educated their children, cooked and cleaned, so what purpose in this whole world did these housewives had anyway, except finding interesting things to do like annoying the help or compete at which one is more able to convince her husband to pay for ridiculous expensive things. It looks like they were so bored with life that they had to pick at the people in a more vulnerable position, like an evil boss picks out at his employee who he knows will never quit the job because he needs it. Also, they were striving at the same time to appear high class, blue blooded like the British nobility, by having help in the home, dressing up and having social clubs that were exclusive with fancy parties. But the author describes very well how non blue blooded they were, but actual plain farmers' wives, by describing the men's sometimes dirty smelly outfits, and Skeeter's own family.
Some of the maids are portrayed like Scarlet's Mammie from Gone With the Wind. That is the image that came to my mind first when I started to read the book. Although I have seen some North and South documentaries and read some non-fiction on the same subject and since I know better I tried really hard to stray my mind from that image, but the book kept bringing me back to it. I think that what the book lacks is a strong African American accomplished character. At least one! I`m sure there were at that time. This book sends a very sad message most of the time that there is no hope for this community, that the evil white people are always going to win no matter what, and that they have no accomplished people, which I know is not true.
I can't help it but feel that although Skeeter is trying to do good and all she fails to get close to Minnie and Aibileen either because they are the help or because they are African American. It seems like she is doing more charity than anything else by giving them money and feeling sorry for their lives. She actually says at one point in the book that because she is white she feels compelled to help them financially. So, I don't think the characters are close enough, and that they were developing strong bonds of long lasting friendship. This is what I was expecting. Skeeter still feels alone even though there is potential at gaining better friends than her country club members. The book was intended to show the bonds between different women but I don't think the woman who wrote this story has captured those actual bonds.
I think there is a good message which says that the only way to change people is to start when they are small. Unknowingly, the housewives were giving the maids the power over the education of their children in many cases in this book. As a result some of the maids saw this as an opportunity to maybe change who the offspring of these people were going to become. I don`t know if this was the reality in the real world of the maids, but it is how it comes off from this novel.
It is true that in order to change the relationship between two parties, you need both of them to work at it and give in a little from their side. However, the people who try to create change in this book belong to both parties but do not come together enough, and don't stay together, and it seems that one party takes a much bigger risk than the other one. Think about a married couple for example. If only one spouse does all the effort to improve the marriage and the other one couldn't care less, it will never be enough, we all know that.
In conclusion, this book is fun and entertaining, but not extremely satisfactory to my literary needs. Leaving out much of the reality of the violence and discrimination that the African American community suffered at that time makes it a light read for many people who cannot stand descriptions of violence.
But don't mind me, I criticize everything to the bone... That was my take on it! Have fun reading.