This past summer I spent a blissful, hot and humid 5 weeks in my hometown New Orleans. I usually spend the first week marveling over the changes and things that I’ve missed while living in France. This time there was one thing I couldn’t miss and that was all the media attention that was being given to Katheryn Stockett’s The Help. I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing, “What you haven’t read it, you better read it. It’s great!” All bookstores had The Help placed in the front of the store and in some right next to the cash register. Being that I read quite a bit I started to feel left out, but then while watching television I was bombarded with critics on daytime talk shows. The trailer was shown constantly on television with its catchy upbeat music. To me, it seemed like a comedy. I refused to go to the movie before reading the book. It was the first book we would be discussing this school year with the NRs. Needless to say, I spent most of the time with my eyes blindfolded and my ears plugged. I felt as if I was on jury duty.
Finally when I got back to France I sat down exhausted from my long trip back and did nothing more for 3 days but read, sleep and eat. When I finished the book I could see why some people were annoyed with it, especially those that lived through this period. I could also see what people loved about it. I think this book could get people talking about this period but not for the right reason nor the right discussion. It seems to make light of some serious issues that black people were going through at the time.
What I liked about this book is the idea of learning about black maids during Jim Crow years, although this book doesn’t get into too much detail about that, since the issue of sexual harassment was not mentioned. The character analysis was clear, lively. They were described in detail. You could imagine what they looked like. I must admit I fell in love with Aibeleen and Minny immediately. The usage of dialect was a good idea although it didn’t look much like the dialect I had read in other novels. it seemed to be extremely baby like. It just looked like English sentences with words missing. I’m still not sure why she kept writing Lord as Law. Nobody says that in the south.
Anyway, this book will definitely be labeled the mini controversy of 20111. I haven’t seen the movie but people have told me that it’s a tear jerker. They also said that certain things were different. Who knows maybe I’ll go see the movie when I have time. Check out the trailer below. What do you think?