I know I am behind the rest of the world in reading this book, but I just finally got to it. And I must say, I am very glad I did. This was one excellent book. Now, bear in mind I have not seen the movie (yet), so I was unspoiled going into the book.
Stockett wrote a very true story of the south in the 1960s, and even though the novel is pretty much entirely focused on racism, Stockett stays away from the truly awful. She definitely discusses violence between the races, but avoids it with the main characters. It is always on the edge of things though. Growing up myself in the 1990s and 2000s, I sometimes forget how absolutely different things were back then, and some of the “truths” of the races were just blatantly laughable, although with an undercurrent of supreme sadness that these were actually believed by the public.
What I loved about the story is the shift between voices. Readers go inside the heads of Skeeter, Minny, and Aibeleen. The voices are so distinct that the shifts would be noticeable even without the chapter headings. Each character grows over the course of the novel, and no one is better than another, since each small change makes such a big difference to the characters.
The novel, as I am sure you know by now, is about Skeeter (a white woman) writing a book about maids in Jackson, Mississippi. Instead of stereotyping that they are all treated awful, and that the white women are terrible, Stockett presents a fairly even scope of humanity. Yes, many of them are bad, but there are also close relationships between maids and the families they work for.
Of course the worst character in the story is Hilly, who rules her social circle with an iron fist, forcing the hand of those close to her, self-serving always, and very rarely redeeming. In the book, I couldn’t help but hate her.
Despite my enjoying the book immensely (and reading it very quickly), I was disappointed in the ending. I felt that although there were resolutions, there was not enough depth to what was occurring and the ending felt a bit abrupt to me.
Nonetheless, if you haven’t read The Help yet, I highly recommend it. Now I am on to the movie.
UPDATE: Watched the movie. Excellent acting, but I really missed a lot of character development from the book. It’s a cliché, but the book was better.~Cailey W.