Bloggy friends, if you haven’t yet read this book, please please please hop on over to http://www.amazon.com/ right now and buy it! The Help, written by Kathryn Stockett, was so good I started reading it Saturday night (yes, I realize this means I have no life) and blew through it. I finished it yesterday morning. It was that good. Better than sex.
The Help focuses on the lives of three narrators: Minny and Aibileen, black maids and best friends, and Eugenia, a.k.a. Skeeter, a young white woman who has recently graduated from Ole Miss. The book is set in 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi and it deftly exposes the tensions rising during the civil rights movement. Once I started this book, I quite literally couldn’t put it down. Dan’s stepmother gave it to me for my birthday, and it’s been one of those books gathering dust on my nightstand (I know many of you have similar piles!). Well, a friend of mine mentioned having read it, so I figured it was high time I started. Then I couldn’t stop. It was so, so good. I gobbled up every page, hungry for more. I didn’t want it to end!
I immediately related to Skeeter and loved her character. After all, she’s a GRITS member (Girls Raised In The South) like moi, she’s a sorority girl, and she loves to write. She’s tall, she feels awkward in her own skin, and the people she considers her best friends don’t think twice about ditching her. Throughout the novel she comes to terms with her true self–the difference between who she is and who she wants/doesn’t want to be—and learns to stand alone. I was so proud of her and what she did that I caught myself laughing and cheering out loud…and catching tiny glimpses of myself.
Here’s an excerpt that I loved, a scene between Eugenia/Skeeter and her family’s maid, Constantine:
The first time I was ever called ugly, I was thirteen. It was a rich friend of my brother Carlton’s, over to shoot guns in the field.
“Why you crying, girl?” Constantine asked me in the kitchen.
I told her what the boy had called me, tears streaming down my face.
“Well? Is you?”
I blinked, paused my crying. “Is I what?”
“Now you look a here, Eugenia” –because Constantine was the only one who’d occasionally follow Mama’s rule. “Ugly live up on the inside. Ugly be a hurtful, mean person. Is you one a them peoples?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so,” I sobbed.
Constantine sat down next to me at the kitchen table. I heard the cracking of her swollen joints. She pressed her thumb hard in the palm of my hand, something we both knew meant Listen. Listen to me.
“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision.” Constantine was so close, I could see the blackness of her gums. “You gone have to ask yourself, Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”
She kept her thumb pressed hard in my hand. I nodded that I understood. I was just smart enough to realize she meant white people. And even though I still felt miserable, and knew that I was, most likely, ugly, it was the first time she ever talked to me like I was something besides my mother’s white child. All my life I’d been told what to believe about politics, coloreds, being a girl. But with Constantine’s thumb pressed in my hand, I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe.
Read this book. I promise you won’t be disappointed!