The Help

Cover of "The Help"
Cover of The Help

I’ll be honest. Sometimes, I get turned off by too much hype. I listen to book podcasts, follow bestseller lists, and read book blogs. If too many people tell me about a book, I get to feeling like I’ve already read it.

That’s why I put off reading Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. I’ve sold more copies of this book at Barnes and Noble than any other since I started working as a bookseller. Everyone I know has raved about the movie. I was determined to read the book first, but was in no hurry to do so–after all, I had heard all about it. The great secret of the “terrible-awful” thing that Minnie did had been revealed (shame on you, anonymous blogger). So I just figured I’d get to it at some point.

But, then I started listening to it on audio. I was hooked immediately. I started listening to it on the way to Rochester and seriously considered reading it behind the cash register at work (we have copies on display). Obviously, this sort of behavior is frowned upon–even at a book store. But I still might have done it, had I not been enjoying the audio version so much. Three narrators read the three perspectives of Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minnie. There is something so transporting about listening to a book with well-read dialect, especially one as well-written as The Help. Kathryn Stockett describes the way I felt about the voices of Minnie and Aibileen (on audio) beautifully in the book, when Skeeter is describing the voice of her maid:

“If chocolate was a sound, it would have been Constantine’s voice singing. If singing was a color, it would’ve been the color of that chocolate.”

The Help is full of descriptions that will make you smile, because you know just what she means. Like when she says the room where the group of young Southern belles play bridge “smells like diamonds.”  Well, that and hairspray, but that’s just implied. 🙂

It is funny, emotional, and will break your heart with its insight into Mississippi in the 1960s, the most violent state of the civil rights movement. Black women raise white babies, who grow up to learn that their beloved maid is colored. Then, they hire colored women to raise their babies, and make the same woman who changed their diapers use the “colored” bathroom outside–because they hear black people carry different, dangerous diseases.

The Help is engaging and absolutely deserves the hype. Read it!

P.S. And I don’t just mean watch the movie, although by all means do so if you are one of the minority of American women/majority of American men who haven’t seen it yet. The movie adaptation was fantastic.  But the book is BETTER!