Monday, May 9, 2011
For this month's book club pick, I got to choose. A number of friends had recommended The Help, so that's what I went with. I just finished the book on Saturday with tears in my eyes. It was one of the best books I've read in a very long time. Poignant in its simplicity but with the strength and impact of books like To Kill a Mockingbird or the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Stockett has woven a tale with nuance, grace, and grit. Following three very different women, two who are housemaids to upwardly mobile white families in Jackson, MS, and one heiress to a cotton fortune, the novel explores from shifting perspectives race relations during the nascent years of the civil rights movement. With skill and ease the book transitions between the gracious and persevering narrative of Aibeleen, the agitated and outspoken perspective of Minny, and the searching, vulnerability of Skeeter. Each woman brings her own history, experiences, and unique insights to the conversation, and the story crescendos to a surprising denouement that is fully satisfying without being trite. I highly recommend this textured reflection on race, friendship, and love.