Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The cover above is for the Norwegian translation of this book.
If you're in need of a good book to sit down with in the dark autumn evenings(with a steaming cup of hot chocolate or tea) look no further. The Help by Kathryn Stockett is just what you need. I read the book this summer and it was a great read. The Help is one part chick-lit mixed with one part feel-good and a secret ingredient, because it cannot be defined as a book in the chic-lit or feel-good genre(it's difficult to describe really).

A summary of sorts:
The Help is a story about black maids and their white, female employers in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. The story is divided in alternate chapters told by each of the three main characters. First we have the middle aging maid Abileen, she is as kind as the day is long and she always does as she's told. Secondly we have Minny, a younger maid who has got five children and a husband to take care of. Minny isn't a person who tolerates everything her employers does and her reactions always leads to consequences(usually she ends up getting fired). Lastly we have 23 year old Skeeter, she dreams about being a journalist and is the daughter of a cotton plantation owner.

My thoughts on The Help:
I laughed, I cried and I fell in love with the characters in this book.

Through every page in the book I never stopped being amazed that the relationship between black and white people in some states in the USA has been so bad for so long. It feels like reading something that could perhaps have happened 100 years ago but this isn't even 50 years in the past. A lot of the story is fictional but not the fact that there were huge differences between black and white people and their rights. Stockett has managed to weave in some actual happenings from that time, one of those I knew nothing about; the killing of the African American civil rights activist Medgar Evers from Mississippi. I enjoy reading books that can teach me new things, I'm the kind of person that will Google historical happenings from books to find out more about them.

The author herself have experienced the times she is writing about in her book and not all of her relatives appreciated her honesty. Some was actually so provoked that they cut their ties with Stockett:

The cover:
I'm not all that fond of the Norwegian cover but it probably appeals to a great many other people than me. My favorite cover is below, I feel that it's more true to the story:

My rating of this book:
5 stars out of 5

Want to know more?Visit Kathryn Stockett's homepage
Full disclosure:Received for honest review from the Norwegian publisher Cappelen Damm.