Blob’s Book Club: The Help

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Overview:

You know the overview.  You saw the movie.  Or at least the trailer.  Or at least Billie Crystal’s opening number at the Oscar’s.  You didn’t?  You’re lucky.

Credit: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/covers/us/ 9780399155345L.jpg
via Wikipedia.

THE GOOD

Knowing what people are talking about when they say The Pie.  Actually, strike that, skip this section, and see below.  But before you do, I guess I should recognize, at least passingly, that I’m in a charmed position of arriving horribly late to this particular party.  It’s easy to seize on the watered down punch, the tired pop playlist, and the usual-suspects guest list when you’re walking in at last call.  I appreciate that it’s all so easy for me to say, but still: the punch is watery, the playlist is tired, and the guest list is boring.

THE BAD

The Accents.  I generally hate reading an accent.  It never reads the way it’s supposed to and becomes cloying after about two paragraphs.

The Ham-fistedness.  The accents tie a lot in to this.  But that’s just the Little Ham Fist.  There’s still the other ham fist; the Plotline Ham Fist.  The plot spring was coiling from page one.  Was the one chick going to find out about the pie?  What was in the pie?  Would the other chick’s Baby Girl ever respect her?  Yes. Poop. No.  We get it.  Then there’s the otherotherham fist, the big ham fist: The Civil Rights Ham Fist.

The Trip Back to Well.  Did we really need another book about race relations in mid-century America?  Did anyone really wonder how Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny were going to remain so tight after the book came out?  Did they?  They didn’t.

THE INEXPLICABLE

The pie.  I just.  Can’t.

OVERALL IMPACT ON MY FAITH IN HUMANITY

Deflating.  I of course am happy about the themes of the book.  It’s great that Skeeter’s hard work paid off.  It’s great that Aibileen’s hard work allowed her another opportunity to work hard.  It’s great that Minny . . . um . . . survived the story?  See what I mean?   There were good, buoyant things that transpired, but the way they happened and the overwrought way Stockett choked the life out of them were totally dissatisfying.

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4 comments

  1. This story’s not about race relations. That’s just the setting chosen to tell the same old story of haves and have nots: its about the good altruistic underdogs vs the powerful,decadent elite. This setting was a good one because it was easy to make the reader love Minnie and the girls, and to hate the white bitches. For me, it’s the same story as told in all those about the hopeless ball clubs, about Rocky, or the Band of Brothers. The Graduate is an all-time favorite. Same story told differently: 1. Let me have the wit and the grit to be like the good guys, and 2. Let me never slip into the ways of the dilettante bitches.

    • You didn’t think the Race Card added more than just the underdog context? Seemed to me that Skeeter made it out of Jackson, got the dream job, and and had her whole life ahead of her, while The Help are left behind with the vague suggestion of hope for their future, but somehow in the end there’s this weird feeling like everybody wins?

      • Well, yeah, I guess that’s right allright, but does that change the weary old root-for-the-underdog theme?

  2. I’m so happy to read that someone else disliked this book. Another woman in my department actually uses this for her Gender and Society class – and it drives me insane.

    The “accents” are borderline offensive. I feel like Stockett read Their Eyes Were Watching God and thought “this would be GREAT in my fluff piece about race relations!”

    Ugh. I hatedddd this book. Hated.

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