Books I Am Reading Or Have Read...("The Help")

I HAD to read "The Help".  I saw an article in a magazine of mine where this author submitted her manuscript 43 times before it was published; THAT got my attention.  I had always intended to read the book before the movie came out, but before I knew it...it was released!  I found myself in a tough spot because a bunch of my lady friends got together to see it within the first few days it came out.  I frantically read, but was not able to complete it in time to see the movie with them.  I just couldn't do that; especially since the author had put so much of herself into the creation of the "written word".  So, today, as I completed that last word, I made plans with Robby and Caitlin to head down to the theatre to compare Hollywood's version of "The Help" to the book version that was now rolling around in my head.

First, let me start by saying that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE BOOK!  There are many reason for that...I LOVE that it was written in the vernacular...I LOVE that is was set during the era that I was born and growing up as a young child in the south...I LOVE that it brought brought back memories of how decorum ruled the day for southern ladies...the only things that I did NOT love was being confronted with the cold, hard facts of how many people treated their "help" back then. 

My daddy grew up with "help", we had other family members and friends who grew up with "help"...me?  Well, we were not wealthy enough to have "help"; and Mama stayed home with me and cooked and cleaned...why did we need "help" anyway?  Hmmm...After getting deep into the book, I realized "why"; it's that age old "status symbol thing"!  One of the things that became very clear to me was that there was a code among each social group (and still is today if one truly admits it...) in the book.  All of those "uppity" Junior Leaguers HAD to have "help" not just because they NEEDED "help", but because it was "just something proper southern ladies did".  Just like they HAD to go to their meetings and card games and benefits...and basically just keep up with one another to the point of all being drones, followers, even if they had other thoughts and ideas of their own; it was "peer pressure" at its finest.

So, although I, personally, did not have "help" growing up, I was around others who did and I would often stop to talk to them and never treat them any differently; I didn't know "help" was supposed to be treated differently.  And once I found that out, well, you know me (always rooting for the underdog...) I would go out of my way to be nice and inclusive every time I was around; not understanding (from now reading this book...) that this might have made them uncomfortable.  This book opened my eyes a little more to what I already knew...segregation (in the south, particularly...) was more than unkind.  These women took care of children, housework, laundry and became very attached to the individuals by whom they were employed.  Some individuals were kind in return; others were not.  This was the part of the book that was so unsettling; the harshness shown to another human being that one allowed to come into their home and care for their most treasured possession; their children.

Being a product of the 60's, I believe, played a huge role in the manner in which I think, behave and ultimately raised my own children.  I can remember (as I am sure most of you can...) those "mean spirited"  people in school.  The ones who made fun of anybody who was "different".  They made jokes and laughed behind their backs and I suppose that this behavior was intended to elevate their own self worth.  Others followed their example (as bad as it was...), for to not do so would be to also be excluded...to stand out from the crowd; who wanted that?  In "The Help", Skeeter did just that and one can see what happened to her.  I never did buy all of that business and promised to spank the behinds of my own children if I ever found out they were doing so.  ALL PEOPLE (especially children...) LEARN BY EXAMPLE.

What "example" have you set for your children?  Is it one of exclusion all for the sake of society or putting yourself on a pedestal to raise your own self worth?  Or have you fostered a spirit or caring and kindness in them?  That spirit that says, "You are a person too; one who has feelings and worth and is valued" ? I was once told that, "The apple doesnt' fall far from the tree", by a teaching supervisor.  I have always remember that and done a lot of observations over the years concerning that saying.  I have to admit that she was EXACTLY RIGHT.  When YOUR "apple" falls from the tree, I hope that it bakes a nice pie that is pleasing to the nose and mouth and NOT a piece of fruit that lays underneath that tree so long that it become sour or rotten.

"The Help"...would I recommend reading it?  ABSOLUTELY!  It is one of the best books that I have read in a while.  It is very well-written and thought provoking.  Funny at some times and sad at others.  I saw the movie.  A LOT was understandably left out.  PLEASE, do not cheat yourself on this one...READ THE BOOK!  HAPPY READING...

3 comments

  1. I'm actually reading it now. I think I will try to finish it before watching the movie. Since I always wait for them to come out on DVD before I watch them, I think I can accomplish it. Thanks for the review! ~Hugs, M

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  2. I sure hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  3. I read it months ago! Loved it, the girls and I are going this weekend to see the movie.

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