Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Required Reading for Book Clubs

on June 24, 2011
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Image by thomas ford memorial library via Flickr

A little over a year ago, just before the end of another school year, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that she was looking for a book club to join, or at least, people willing to start one. Thus began the group that I’ve been reading fantastic works with for the last year. We’re made up primarily of teachers with a few other professions thrown in and we get a long pretty well.

When it came time to choose a first book, we all threw out a suggestion or two. Malissa, our fearless leader, was discussing the book club at lunch. One of the guys in the group sarcastically responded, “What, are you going to read The Help?” It had only been out for a couple of months at that point and was quickly getting the reputation of being the go-to book for book clubs. I, like Nicki, was a little put off by the cover – too girly, what did it have to do with anything, but I bought the book (pre-Kindle, so I actually broke down and bought the hardcover) and began reading.

As the other ladies on this blog have discussed, the story is from the point of view of two black women (“the help”) and one upper class white woman. The switching of narrative was a little confusing at first but soon became enthralled by the different personalities and takes on the story line that each woman had.  Aibileen was the strong woman who kept calm and collected, worrying more about the children than her self. Minny, the hot-tempered one, brought a bit of humor to the book, but also a deeper side to a black woman’s life in the South. I loved reading her parts the most. And Skeeter showed how a white woman who believed in civil rights was an outsider in this society.

Having not lived through the Civil Rights Movement nor having ever lived in the South, a lot of this was eye opening to me. It bothered me how white parents could let their children be raised by these black women, but wouldn’t even let them use their bathrooms. It also showed how having ideas different the norms of that society could put you on the outside very quickly.

The movie of The Help is coming out this August. It’s got a pretty good cast – Emma Stone as Skeeter, Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly, Viola Davis as Aibileen, and Octavia Spencer as Minny. Even one of my favorites, Allison Janney, is in it as Skeeter’s mother. The trailer, which I have included below, looks pretty good. I was pleased with the way Water For Elephants, our last book discussion book, turned out on the big screen, so let’s hope that they do the same this time around.



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