I had heard about this like many of you, commercials for the movie. Then several of my friends told me they’d really enjoyed the book. So, being me, I wanted to read th story before seeing the movie. I prefer to check books from the library or buy them used when I can. Our public library was apparently overloaded with request for the book. When I looked it up, there were 370 holds (requests) on it. Unless I wanted to wait nearly a year to get it, I was going to have to do something else. I did what we all do these days, I put it on Facebook. A day later, my husband’s aunt delivered her copy. I was thrilled and dove right in.
I first have to say that I am embarrassed to know that black people were treated this way in our lifetime. Well, not mine, not exactly. I’m a late 60’s baby, so it was pretty much all over with by the time I came along. Still.
I really enjoyed it and felt like it was well written. The uproar over a white woman writing from the point of view of a black maid is really ridiculous. If you’ve read Memoirs of a Geisha, you’ll understand that the gender or race of the author doesn’t mean as much as the skill and research gone into the piece of work.
It is a story of a young white woman, recently graduated from college, trying to find her place in a man’s world of journalism. Skeeter is struggling to find herself while under the eagle eyes of her mother, who is never happy with the way her hair is or the way she behaves. Her mother laments the fact that she graduated college and didn’t find a husband while she was away. As if that is the only reason a young lady goes to college. don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that was the way of thinking in some parts of the country at that time. It’s just hard to fathom for me.
Skeeter wants to be a serious journalist and applies for a job at a New York magazine. The response she receives from the editor spurs her to challenge herself and the way of thinking that is prevalent in the south during that very turbulent time of the Civil Rights movement. It’s set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s. Skeeter lives on a cotton farm and is from an old money family. Her friends, Hilly and Elizabeth, and the Jackson Women’s League are very proper southern ladies who believe appearance is everything.
There were several plot twists that added more interest, some sadness for one of the characters. And laughter at the refusal to accept the treatment of someone who feels superior simply because of her skin color.
Acceptance is the main message of this story. Acceptance of ourselves as we are. Acceptance of others, regardless of their skin color. Acceptance of the fact that we don’t have to accept the way things are if we are unhappy with them.
The Help was a very enjoyable book to read. I have not seen the movie yet, but I plan to. It’s amazing to see where things were, and where they are now in our world and our society. Back then, interracial marriages were illegal. People with a different skin color were treated truly as if they had diseases that were contagious and deadly, just because they look different. It’s offensive in the knowledge that it’s based on the way things really were.
Have you read the book or seen the movie? What did you think?