Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Help

Kathryn Stockett’s first novel, The Help, became wildly popular after its publication in 2009 and has been on the NYT’s bestseller list for months.  The movie version starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer is due out in August.  Stockett grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and had a close relationship with her family’s maid.  Her book is based on this experience in her life.

The story is set in the South during the 1960s.  Skeeter Stone, a privileged society girl returns home from college with her sights set on becoming a writer.  In the process she manages to cause uproar in the community.  Skeeter actually decides to interview the black women who have worked for and taken care of the children of the town’s prominent families.  She wants to tell their stories.  “The Help” definitely had special relationships with their employers and their children but racism and enforced segregation kept these feelings buried.  Making them public is against everything that society believed to be proper.

In the book, the various women alternate in telling their stories.  Even though the powerful message concerning these volatile times in the South is always present the individual characters and their complicated racial relationships do not get lost.  One story is about a woman whose own son was tragically killed in an accident and how she lovingly dedicates herself to raising the children of the families she works for.  Eventually, new friendships are forged but not everyone in the community is willing to accept that times may be changing.

In addition to the printed copy, The Help, is available on compact disc and as a downloadable title.  Put your name on the reserve list today, so you can read it before the movie opens in August.

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