Other Books 2013/14

Other Books – The Help , Kathryn Stockett 7/7/14

From my Goodreads review:

“Having read the other reviews I’m a bit nervous to say that I really like this book. I love social commentaries in general and I think that this one hits a really nice balance between thought provoking and enjoyable.
There were times that I giggled and smiled and times where I had to stop reading for a minute in shock to process what I had read and think “there was a time and a place in the world where that was normal”.
Sometimes I think that if a social commentary is too heavy handed with its criticism the reader can shrink from the message because it is too painful to absorb. But this one balances the social point with characters you like and care about (and cry about) and for me as a result of this, the message is all the more prominent.”

I really like this book and I think that the above is a pretty decent summary of my feelings, but I wish to talk about this in more detail especially due to the current situation regarding Ferguson and America in general.

This book is an excellent example of both white privileged and how to overcome it to sensitively and effectively champion the oppressed. In 1962 a white women longing to be a journalist returns to her home town in Mississippi from college to find her childhood nanny has left with no explanation. As she re-enters privileged white society she struggles to cope with the prejudice of her friends. A black maid mourns the pointless death of her son as she raises her seventeenth white child whose mother couldn’t care less. Her friend, also a maid, loses yet another job after she sasses her boss and through desperation takes a job for a family full of its own secrets. These three women go on to write a controversial and dangerous book about life as a domestic servant in Mississippi as they try to start a movement of their own.

It is unbelievable to me the parallels that exist between this book set 52 years ago and the fear and injustice in America today. The Help is such a wonderful book because it gives the black women a voice not only in the plot but also in the narrative. They are able to tell their stories from their own point of view both to the reader and to the people of this fictitious Mississippi town.

Skeeter, the young white women, has to examine her own prejudice and acknowledge her own privilege as she gets to know these women and although she often makes mistakes, it is due to her complete ignorance of the situation for the black community. What she ends up doing is using her privilege to help those in need. Aibileen and Minny, the maids, had the courage to stand up for their people but the didn’t have the voice; Skeeter gave them hers without making it about herself.

I sincerely hope that you can see why I feel that this book has more importance today than it did 5 months ago when I read it. I also hope that more people will read this book and increase their understanding of racism in America both historically and in the present day then just maybe they might stand with Ferguson.

Rating: 4/5

Would recommend to: as I saw it put on Goodreads, everyone and their mum, and their barbers.

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