I wanted to like this so much more than I did. And this says a lot about both myself and the book/writer. Even though my response isn’t that friendly to the book there were some occasional one liners that made me smile.
When I requested a copy of this book from the publisher,* I wanted to identify with the characters, I wanted to revel in our shared experiences of growing up in the south during a certain time, but I just couldn’t.
Perhaps this is because I didn’t grow up in the deep south (I grew up in a military town in NC) or maybe because my family wasn’t too religious, (we went to church some times, but we were Episcopalian and compared to other southern denominations, they’re pretty damn liberal), or perhaps it’s just because of the writing or the non-shared experiences of the book that i just couldn’t click with it.
The first and only book I didn’t finish in time for this year’s autobiography book group. I did finish it, but only about a week late. I wasn’t the one that picked it, and honestly was probably the one who enjoyed this most out of the group.
I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffett thanks to an aunt who has been to many of his concerts. I’m not going to lie though, when I re-listened to Songs You Know by Heart (Amazon link) right after finishing the book I did have to question why I was given that album couldn’t have Jagged Little Pill (Amazon link) until another aunt bought me a copy and said don’t tell your mother. Some of the lyrics are down right questionable! Without reading the book I never would’ve connected Cheeseburgers in Paradise with Buffett’s party days and he ACTUALLY talks about staying skinny doing speed. If you’ve never listened, I’ve dropped the video in at the end of this post.
This response is a bit scattered. It’s as close to stream-of-consciousness as I will ever get so enjoy it.
I jumped this book up my list because someone was getting antsy. For some reason, he didn’t think I wanted to read anything he suggested, or that I didn’t like his last recommendation, Last Summer, so I’ve made a deal with him that I’ll read a book at least every other month from him (talk about dictating!). Thankfully I’ve really enjoyed both books he’s recommended so far. His next recommendation is Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour and these recommendations don’t even include the ones of his that I WANT to read!
I was a little torn on John Howard’s introduction as it felt a bit misleading, but it did provide an excellent history of Phillips life and the setting of the novel. Howard wrote about his own experience as an LGBT academic and activist, and the self-serving nature of getting this book re-published for its early LGBT themes. He mentioned Phillips lack of acknowledgement about his own sexuality, which was interesting, and noted that none of his other books did as well as The Bitterweed Path and didn’t contain LGBT themes.
After hearing Emma Donoghue recommend this book, I of course immediately added it to my list of books to read. So I was ecstatic when I flew home to NC for my aunt Miriam’s wedding that another aunt had a copy I could borrow!
The Help is a fascinating snapshot of the lives of three women, Skeeter—a young college educated white socialite (a bit of an outcast), Aibileen—a black maid who specializes in raising white children, and Minny—a spit-fire black maid who has made her fair share of enemies and works for a woman with secrets that would shock anyone.
Told over one year from the alternating perspectives of Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny we encounter 1960s Jackson, Mississippi and the myriad connections between ‘the help’ and the bosses. Skeeter an aspiring writer made an editor contact in New York who recommends she write about what bothers her and after spending time with her childhood friends, Skeeter realizes how bad ‘the help’ are treated and what they must know. After a series of events in which Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny are thrust together, the idea to author a book exposing the lives of working black women is born, conveniently also called The Help.