Monday, November 30, 2009

The Help

Check out my top ten list to the right. It's been updated to include The Help. I'm not even sure where to begin I have so much praise for this book. It's been on the NY Times Bestseller list for 34 weeks, shortly after it was released in February 2009. Longer than any other fiction book currently on the list. This week it's #5. I've only known about The Help for a short time – about two months – but once I heard a little about it I added it to my list. I had the pleasure of listening to this one, and the audio version is one of the main reasons I am in love with this novel.

To begin with, each of the three main characters are read by different people. All three of them have that endearing southern charm and accents reminiscent of Steel Magnolias. In the first five minutes I was hooked and even laughing out loud. (It's always a good sign when I'm listening to a book sitting in my car in the garage.) Then I was listening while walking into the house from the car, then listening some more. Listening on a Saturday for five hours while I cleaned the house. I couldn't get enough, but at the same time I didn't want it to end. The end actually snuck up on me while I was cooking last Sunday evening. If I would have realized that I was so close I think I would have saved it for another day!

I could go on for several more paragraphs gushing about the characters and the outstanding plot, but that could get a bit nauseating to read. Instead I will include the Publisher's Weekly review (also for my reference when I look back on this one ten years later) and my insistence the you read this book immediately and share it with all your friends. Thank you, Kathryn Stockett, for such a lovely debut novel.

"What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it."

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