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Three Dave's No Waiting

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good help and a good book are hard to find.

My wife and I both love books. She loves reading them and I love having them. See. I'm a keeper and she's not. Don't get me wrong she's definitely a keeper. She's worth keeping around and then some, but she doesn't need to own a book once she's read it. I probably have 100 or more books at home that I have never read. She probably read 100 books this year that she does not own.

So when Amy read a book earlier this Spring and wanted to read it again, and now tells me she wants to own it, I knew it must something special.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is indeed, something special. The story takes place in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights period. Stockett turns in a beautiful, poignant book that is at turns hilarious, harrowing and heartbreaking. (The alliteration society called and they want their h back.)

The Help is one of those books that tells first person narrative of the same events in multiple voices. It has been my experience that in books like theses,one of the voices is usually more realistic or fleshed out than the others. When that happens I generally wish they told us the story in one strong voice rather than adding in several lesser ones. This is not so with The Help. Skeeter, Abileen and Minnie, are all complete characters adding their own distinct pathos to the tale.

The tale itself is the story of how African American domestic servants raise white southern children from birth, often becoming closer to these children than the parents themselves. It is a story of how these 3 heroic women from diverse backgrounds begin to chronicle the good, bad and ugly of this way of life in the deep south.

When you have a story with heroes, you need villains and The Help has one of the best (worst) evil characters that I have seen in print in quite a while. Skeeter's childhood friend puts a face on racism. Hilly shows us from the first chapter that above all else she cares about keeping the lines between black and white clear, distinct and unequal. Watching Hilly ruin the lives and livelihoods of anyone who dares cross her is sobering.

Stockett does an excellent job building tension in The Help. She would bring out some snippet of character development and then let us ruminate on it for 100 pages before developing it further. There were also several unexpected twists and turns along the way.

The best part of the Help is the dialogue. Each of the main characters has a lovely way of expressing themselves rich in colloquial expressions. My favorite part was when Abileen told her young charge Mae Mobely about a special man from space, Martian Luther King, who was hated because he was green.

The first book I read during my Summer reading plan, is always the best I've read at least until I finish another. After starting with The Help, I am not sure how any books will be able to overtake this one.

Next Time: Conventional Wisdom

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Dave..how are you?
    love your humor..I just came from a friend's blog,care to win a book for wifey?

    good luck...hope to see you again for the weekend funnies?
    have you and wifey with kids a great week!



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