Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I have been looking forward to reading this book and am looking forward to seeing the movie. This book opens in August 1962 in Jackson, MS.  I was born in September 1962 in Natchez, MS (2 hours SW of Jackson).  I do not remember these days... for obvious reasons... but I do remember the times from the late 1960s forward. While in no way trying to defend my state (which I love warts and all), I will say that the white families here were not in the majority.  These are affluent exclusive whites... the Country Club scene. That said.. prejudice was everywhere and while there were different levels of action connected to it (we never had a separate bathroom for our maid nor did she use different plates etc. And she did sit at the table and eat with us like family), the inequalities were evident and consistant and wrong.

The Help does not sugar coat the reality.  For that, I am thankful. Stockett shows not only the way these families treated their "help" but also their children... leaving them to be seen but not heard until Mother was ready to show them off.. and then they had better be perfect.  I knew children who grew up like this... still do.. it is beyond sad.

I love that Stockett shows the relationship between the "help" and the children. While we only had a maid a few years of my young life and my mother, who worked outside the home, didn't neglect or ignore me, I loved Josephine. She was, to me, family.  I pray she felt that way about us. I would hate to think she felt we saw her as the women in this book see the maids who work for them.

I have heard a few folks criticize this book and the movie. But, for the most part, I hear praise for it. It is a delightfully sweet and accurate portrait of a far from sweet time in our history.

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