Book Review

Help Wanted

In a reading purge I can’t really explain, I just finished “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett. Yes, I know, it came out a while ago and I haven’t even seen the film (yet), but I’d always been intending to read this book.  It started a couple months ago, when my sister came to visit, and she was listening to it on Audible.  She saw the film and got the book, since it’s 18 hours on Audible and she had 18 hours of driving.  My sister was already halfway through the book when I started catching snippets of the story, but after a brief synopsis from my sister, I found myself listening more.

Here, my sister and my mom had driven almost half a day to see me, and what do we end up doing?  Lay around my Family Room and listen to a book.  I’m not complaining though – I enjoyed the simple time with my family. 🙂

The pathetic thing is, I want this book not to be based off real history.  The history of the South seriously gives me a headache thinking of how stupid people are. (I say “are,” because people are still stupid, but in different ways these days).

But that’s the way of a story.  You’re supposed to root for the protagonists and wish the worst for the ridiculous evil people. I definitely got that feeling while reading this book.  Still, the characters are rounded enough with opposing qualities.  Hilly’s a good mom (not all evil).  And Minny (though a protagonist) can’t hold her tongue even if she super-glued it between her fingers.  And Miss Skeeter could do some growing up (which we all could at 24, when we’ve graduated from college and think we know what’s best for ourselves and the world.  Gee, that sounds like me.) 😛

I’ll admit, I did have a little trouble listening and reading, because… I don’t speak Southern.  From Audible, I kept wondering “Was that what I thought I heard?  Do they have different definitions for words there, or am I just hearing something else through the accent?”  The book’s spelling and grammar is halfway to “Tom Sawyer,” and there were just as many instances where I had to re-read a sentence, saying the sentences aloud or fast.  Sometimes, I felt like I was playing Mad Gab with the book.

Unfortunately, my biggest qualm was the ending.  SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read):  Sure, each character’s given hope with new opportunities, but the conflict didn’t really feel settled.  It’s not the kind of “unsettled” where you think they’ll write a second book either.  My Senior English teacher explained after we finished “Pygmalion,” “They either need to live happily ever after or all be killed off – just don’t make them live the normal life!”  It’s unsatisfying!  Though “The Help” left when that sense of new beginning, I did get a bit of that unsatisfying normal-life feeling.

Anyway, end of the day, ***3*** stars.  Sure, I liked it.  I’ll look up the movie and make comparisons.  Do I think I’ll read it again?  If I ever get the urge to dive into the Jim Crow South (not likely), sure, I’ll pick it up.  Do I enjoy thinking with a Southern accent for an hour after reading?  Heck no.  Though I won’t complain about the British videos and songs I’ve listened to, to redirect the accents in my head. 😉

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