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4.6 out of 5 stars189
4.6 out of 5 stars
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2011
I kept hearing all the excitement this book and its movie are generating, so I bought a copy and read it cover-to-cover. The author certainly has talent as a writer but I am disappointed at yet another *Great White Hope* story where groups or generations of disenfranchised minorities are powerless until the white hero or heroine swoops in and liberates these poor folk - giving them an avenue to finally express themselves, get an education, get justice... Dangerous Minds, Cry Freedom, The Blind Side, Hardball, Wildcats, Radio, the Love Guru, Cool Runnings, Bagger Vance, Dances With Wolves, Amistad, Ghosts of the Mississippi, Mississippi Burning, Freedom Writers...
And now The Help.

All these told primarily from the white Hero(ine)'s viewpoint where the minority characters are in supporting roles and waiting for the guidance of the messianic white character. I'm tired of these books and films generating all the positive press and revenue when the stories of people who actually had something to lose (besides their country-club membership) play bit parts in their own histories!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2012
No wonder Oprah loved this book; it's right up her alley. Smart, Sassy Black Folk, Dumb Racist Southerners, except for the Sassy Heroine who, gee whiz,surprise surprise just happens to want to be a Writer.( The capitalization is intentional, as every person in here is a stock character role, rather than an individual.)

Let's be honest here though, this book's been done before, lots of times and done WAYYY better. It's cliched, bedly paced, badly written and the ending's telegraphed from the get go....And if I had to hear about the characters having 'secrets' one more time before they were finally revealed, I would have screamed...

Watch the least it's short and you get to see Alison Janney in it....
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2011
I hate to rain on anyone's parade because I know this book and the subsequent movie version garnered a lot of positive reviews and I can see why people did like it in certain places, but I was very disappointed in both the book and the movie.

I usually tend to favour the novels from which movies are adapted and there are a few touching moments in the book. However, in this case, I found the movie much more moving owing to the powerful performances of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. My main disappointment with both the book and the movie is that the parts of the black women are romanticized and idealized. You get a very strong indication of the young white girl, Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, who "tells" their story- her likes and dislikes, but the two main black characters are more sentimental than realistic. They and their struggles are shown as something to pity, but I didn't get a strong indication of them as fully realized, fleshed out characters.

The book at least has each character tell their own story, but it doesn't add much to them as people- just how pitiful their lives are as maids to white people. It doesn't show their home lives, their anger (except for the one incident with Minnie and the pie, which is a little over the top for me) and who they are outside of their roles as maids. It's all funnelled through the "white experience," instead of their own. The movie focuses on the character of Skeeter and how she feels for these women, but I wanted to have a stronger portrait of Aibileen and Minnie; their home life, their lives outside of their being maids, their children, spouses, neighbours, etc.; that was totally absent from both the novel and the movie.

And that is why I felt both the book and the movie are deficient. I know many people will disagree with me and will even be outraged by my review as I've already shocked people with my opinion as they just loved the movie and/or the book, but I really found the novel very trite and the movie, although more powerful, still lacking in showing me realistic characters that I could know on any level other than superficial.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2011
I rarely write a negative review. It just doesn't help promoting the book or the author. But this one was a non-finisher for me. Couldn't get past the sugar. Couldn't get past the fact that through all that STUFF none of the characters learned a thing. Couldn't get past the cute phonetic vernacular. I thought that went out with Mark Twain. That was the major reason I found this novel an annoying read. The author could have taken one small step further and, with care and thought, created the sound of the south through syntax rather than desecrating the English language.
This lady is a fine writer. I would like to see her get past her mannerisms, study the form, and become a fine novelist.
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12 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2009
The most cliche-ridden book since Mockingbird. All black women are good and suffering, all white women are bad and racist, except for the (obviously) ubrnan Jewish liberal. No character develops even a whit, no one changes even a milimeter, all characters are the same at the end of the book as they were at the beginning. That the book gets rave reviews just shows that even people who read have no idea what books are. This is to literature what Glorious Basterds is to movie making. It is a vicarious-revenge book, similar to a Charles Bronson or a Clint Eastwood movie, or, better still, Super-Fly. In "In the heat of the night" Sydney Poitier slaps the evil white man and all the audience cheer too, yes, but Poitier changes by the end of the movie, as does Rod Steiger. Here no one changes. This book is basically one long rant populated with cardboard figures. The good parts? It is written competently. But the writer should take her considerable writing talent and try to write agianst her own grain, not along it. Prove herself wrong, not right. In other words, see the book as the ultimate value, not the politics of it.
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