Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: The Help

I finished this book a while ago, on one of the hottest days in Boston history. I was waiting for Mike to arrive, lying scantily clad on my bed with the A/C cranked. I spent the interim between my workday and his arrival finishing up Kathryn Stockett's amazing book. When my friend Meg recommended the book, I was skeptical. No offense to Meg, but I tend to overlook books with mass appeal (think: NYT Best Sellers). Yes, blame it on the hipster in me.

Luckily, Meg's sincere endorsement won me over because this book served as such a warm and comfortable companion in the short two weeks it took me to read it. You know that struggle between racing through a great book and keeping a slow pace in order to savor it longer? So do I. Stockett's characters are just that: characters. The quirks and flaws of each narrator and the women who surround them range from cute to hateful.

The days I spent reading The Help were especially hot in Boston, and it made me feel even more involved with the story. One night I sat in my kitchen baking cookies while reading. The sweat dripping down my face and the smell and sounds of domesticity completed the experience. There's something very accessible and thus, magical about the stories.

Last week, I went to see the movie based on Kathryn Stockett's novel with Meg. Some scenes surprisingly matched my mind's images while I read the book, like when Aibilene's bus is stopped a ways outside her neighborhood. Sissy Spacek was perfect for Hilly's mom; Aibilene and Minnie's characters were well-represented, as was Celia Foote's. One of my biggest pet peeves is the complete misrepresentation of southern accents in movies and television, but I didn't notice it in this movie (which isn't to say it wasn't there, but it wasn't prominent or distracting). Of course the movie never lives up to the book, but I felt that way mostly because the movie's two and a half hours simply didn't leave room for the rich setting and character details that the book did. I'd say the movie's worth seeing, but do yourself a favor and read this book.


Christina said...

Nice review! You can see mine here:

I actually listened to it on tape and loved hearing the southern voices. But I agree the movie was not nearly as good as the book.

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

I am almost done this book :) loving it so far!