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Showing 1-10 of 33 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on October 20, 2011
Kathryn Stockett is a talented writer, and The Help is an extraordinary first novel, but there is a great problem at the heart of it. Stockett takes on the voice of black women in the American South, and no matter how fine her perceptions and how admirable her sentiments, as a white woman (no matter her life-long personal experience as someone from the American South), her imagination can't possibly stretch to contain the totality of black experience.
I live in Canada now, but when I was 9-10 years old, we lived in Texas, and we had "help" -- not live-in help, but someone who came in 3-4 times a week to clean up and prepare the occasional meal. When she could she would baby-sit my two younger sisters and me. She was our favorite baby-sitter.
This was in the early '50s, when segregation still ruled full force. Much later my father told me that the first time Alma came to baby-sit and he got ready to drive her home, she climbed into the back seat of his car. He said, "Come sit up front." She said, "If I do, there's going to be trouble." We came to Texas from Europe, and my father was astonished. He said that was when he began to understand just what segregation in the South really meant.
I can't begin to compare our few years' experience of the American South with Stockett's life-long experience, but I do feel this. As a veteran (white) journalist, even if I had spent my whole life in the South, I would never dare to take on a black person's voice. Stockett's rendition of black speech is accurate, but because it was necessarily written out of a white person's perception, it can only sound patronizing.
I think Stockett could have created a great novel if she had written entirely from a white person's point of view. It would have been more difficult, but writing true is always difficult.
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Kathryn Stockett's debut novel is like a steam engine that starts nice and slow, then picks up momentum and speeds along. It had me wishing there were more than 450 pages because I did not want it to end! Stockett created such memorable characters that I could almost believe that if I went to Jackson Mississippi I'd meet them.

The Help gives us a glimpse of what it was like to be a black maid during the 1960's in Mississippi'from the point of view of the black maids. Not the stereotypical version of the mammy black maid portrayed by Hollywood, but the version taken from Stockett's own experience of having been raised by a black maid. She captured their voices so well, I could clearly picture those Southern black women, I could feel their despair, their acceptance, their anger, their joy.

Reading this novel filled me with a myriad of emotions. I laughed at some of the humorous situations that came up, felt anger because of the prejudice, sadness at the lack of love not only among the races but also between parent and child, glee at how some were outsmarted, and I had tears of joy for the small victories that became stepping stones to better times. I also cringed because of the profanity, particularly the word g*dd*mn which was used more times than I cared for, although like some of my book club members, you might be so absorbed in the story you might not notice as much. And it ended a little abruptly. I would have liked for the story to continue a little more. When a steam engine train gets rolling it takes time to bring it to a full stop. However, this does not affect the storyline much. It was understood where the characters would go from there.

The book's message is a lofty but fundamental one. At the end of the novel, in her own words, Stockett writes, 'I don't presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960s. But trying to understand is vital to our humanity. In The Help there is one line that I truly prize: 'For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought.''

Well said. Well written. Stockett took on a difficult subject and it seems, effortlessly churned out an unforgettable story with unforgettable characters.
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on December 29, 2011
Yes definitely a good read- My question is why is the Kindle version $12.40 But the Paperback version is $9.20.
I thought going with an e-reader was supposed to be economical and customers should be made aware in order to get free books on Kindle you have to subscribe to a yearly fee of approx. $80.00 plus it's linked to not .ca (Canadian) version. Just F.Y.I. to all
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on December 29, 2010
I only read this book because it was the assigned reading for my book club. I'm so glad I did because it brought such insight into how white people treated the blacks back in the 60's in Jackson, Mississippi. The mentality of some of the white women was just outrageous. It made me think of what my actions and mentality would've been like in such a time. Anyway, this is definitely a book to read, you won't be disappointed!
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on June 22, 2012
I really enjoyed this book and I was glad to read it before I saw the movie. I got through it in just two days; I couldn't put it down. I liked the approach taken to present the story -- from the perspective of a young 23 year old white women (of privilege), and two black domestics (an older wiser woman and a short-tempered mid-thirty woman with too many kids and an abusive husband). I liked the slow development of the main characters. The author did a nice job at setting up the context and era. I found it very interesting (and sad) to read about the racial inequalities of the 1960s that took place before I was born. I'm not very familiar with all of the struggles of the Human Rights campaign that took place in those days and, therefore, I cannot comment on that aspect of the book. It sounded credible to me and I found the story fascinating. I liked how the author took the time to describe the daily routine of the main characters and how they related to one another. The author did a very good job at building the tension; I kept worrying about what would happen if the maids were found out. And, she certainly made me despise the Hilly character and the weak women that she dominated. I'm a tender heart and I was pleased with the ending. I give this novel 4 stars (very good).
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on March 12, 2010
"Get the house straightened up and then go and fix some of that chicken salad."

These were the days when white people treated their black servants like slaves. They never ate the same food, they had to work long tough hours doing housekeeping and cooking to boot. train their children, and not to forget to use the outside bathroom.

These families will continue to do this until the day when one of their white daughters Skeeter returns to her parents' home and decides to evaluate these 'working' conditions.

It hurts her to see how they treat the help and she sets up a meeting with the staff from various households to have them have their say.

And a lot is said.

Between Abilene, Skeeter and Minnie, the wheels start rolling and everything come out in the wash.

This book will set you to thinking as it did the families, who when were awakened looked at the consequence as an act of betrayal.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 12/03/2010)

Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 19/08/09)
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on March 28, 2011
Loved the book! Great read. It was hard to put down. Once you start you won't want to stop until you have finished reading it. It was well written and won't disappoint the reader. It had been selected for my book club. I can't wait to get there and discuss it!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 19, 2012
The best fairy tales give us a profound look into human nature, even if we know reality might be a little different. The famous chocolate pie incident comes to mind as I write this. I can understand a maid putting that particular (also brown) ingredient into a pie designated for a certain racist former boss, but I can't get how she'd blab about it. In Mississippi in the early 1960s, wouldn't that be just too dangerous? What about the KKK? In any case, this is a great read, with engaging characters and a plot that takes a little while to pick up but does get going. I hope Ms. Stockett writes more books!
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on August 17, 2010
This truly was a great read, I finished the book in a few days I couldn't put i down. The way she writes and describes the story I felt as though I was one of the characters in the book. It was a great insight on what times would have been like in those days and as well leaves you walking away from the book with a bit more compassion for others. Great book. The only thing I didn't like to much was how it ended, I felt it does not completely end the story and leaves you questioning what happened????
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on August 20, 2011
I found the book an easy read and always wanting to know "what happens next". Hard not to empathize for what the maids had to go through with their difficult and spoiled youthful employers. The love for their young "charges" was heartwarming and their sense of humour wonderful especially when they got together with their black friends. Seeing the movie right after finishing the book was also fun but without a doubt, as usual, the book is always far better. I would recommend this read.
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