On Wednesday night we had another successful Women of Washington Oaks (WoWO) book club meeting. This time we discussed The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Rating: 4 Stars by the WoWOs
In Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 things were very different then they are today. During this time there are very clear lines between the white middle class elite and their African American help. As we learn in reading The Help, these lines do not get crossed without very real consequences. The Help follows three different, yet extraordinary, women through their everyday lives during this time: Skeeter is a white woman, just graduating from college, whose mother is disappointed that she has not found a man yet. Growing up she had a maid who, when she returned from school, was no longer employed at her home and no one will speak of what happened to her. Aibileen is an African American maid who is caring and nurturing to the children she is raising for the families that she works for. Aibileen loves and cherishes Mae Mobley, the latest child she is raising, and tries to show her that she is beautiful and how to be anything but the racist women she is fated to become. Minny is a ballsy and spunky African American maid who has had problems in the past with her mouth. She finally is able to secure a position with Celia, who is new in town and doesn't not know of her reputation. These three women come together to make real change happen in Jackson, Mississippi and the reader gets to be a fly on the wall for their courageous and very well written journey.
If you have not read this book, there are some spoilers below in the text and the pictures:
The group as a whole enjoyed the story and loved the characters. One person rated the book 3.5 (due to subject matter not being her thing) but everyone else rated the book 4.5 to 5. Which is the highest ratings yet from the WoWO. We had one person who hadn't finished the book, but she will now that she has heard what we loved about the book. The group was torn on who their favorite character was. We all agree that the three main characters were wonderfully written and we loved them all. Minny is Ballsy and has a lot of Spunk, Aibileen was caring and nurturing and was the one to stick her neck out there and bring everyone together for the book to be a success. Skeeter was a great catalyst for change and shows that not everyone during this time felt the same. Our least favorite characters are pretty easy to guess if you read the book: Hilly being the number one choice, Leroy and Skeeter's mom were close behind in the votes. We all also agreed that Two Slice Hilly deserved what she got in that pie from Minny.
We all believed that if Aibileen stayed working for Elizabeth that there was a good chance Mae Mobley would have grown up to be just like her mother. Racism is taught and no matter what Aibileen tried to instill in her, the chances were slim that she would be different than the others as she grew up.
All of us felt that the setting was wonderfully written and you could picture the places and scenes vividly in your mind. The shifts in point of view gave a good and complete narrative to the places, people and events in the story and the character development was very well done. Several in the group didn't love the ending because they didn't feel they got the closure they needed for some of the characters. We are hoping that this was left open because there is a sequel coming, we would love to have another look into the lives of these women a few years down the road.
Although The Help is fiction, I personally loved how Kathryn Stockett incorporated her real experiences with Demetrie and being from the south into this book. I also loved that the descriptions of the cover of Help, the story the women wrote in the book, being the same as the cover of The Help. These two elements really gave the story an aire of realism and made you feel as if you were reading truth instead of fiction.
Entertainment Weekly mentions that there is a movie in the works for this book and we are excited at the prospect. We will definitely make the WoWO group trip to the movies for this one!
I would like to say a special thank you to Lori, Tricia and Bernice for bringing Minny's Chocolate Custard Pie! For those of you who read the book, you'll love this:
Tricia wouldn't eat it though... Hmmmm... Should we be worried?!?! Tricia hated Hilly enough to probably go as far as Minny did. Don't get on her bad side!
May I present to you the Lovely Sisters of the Mighty WoWO:
Left to Right:
Louise, Tricia, Karen, Peggy, Lori, Faith(Me), Myrta, Linda (w/Miles) and Bernice
Thank you ladies for making this book club such a success!
Also, Thanks to "the Help" from last night, Hector! Thanks for making sure we had our drinks full and food in our bellies! We appreciated all the help ;-)
The WoWO's next book club meeting will be on May 14th and we will be reading The Love Ceiling by Jean Davies Okimoto.
The Help book fits into the following categories/challenges for me:
- RYOB Challenge
- Hogwarts Reading Challenge (Charms)
- New Authors Challenge
- PBT Mar Tag: Other