Sunday, August 22, 2010

Completion and Review of "The Help"

Amanda read this before me, as well as her mother, my sister, our neighbor, and every other woman in town it seems. And as you can guess by the gender of the aforementioned readers, this is a very estrogen-rich book.

The story is told from three different points of view, and all of them are women. Not only that, but 95% of the sub-characters are women too. Taking place in the deep American South of the 1960s, it delves into the life of two black maids and one white writer who attempts to write and publish a book about their lives. While the book was fiction, I can't help but wonder how much truth there is to the emotions, actions, roles, and experiences in it.

I have heard and read about the history of segregation and racism before, but it was gratefully never part of my life experiences. Black kids in my schools were treated with just as much love and respect as everybody else in the class, if not more. So while reading historical facts provides knowledge, it produced very little comprehension. While I never disbelieved the history, I have a hard time really absorbing it as a reality. But walking in their shoes, even if was only based on truth, gave me a whole new appreciation of what black people experienced during the trials and difficulties of racial desegregation.

As a whole, I loved this book. It was well written, emotionally gripping, had a positive message, a slight underlying spiritual tone (for Christianity, but against hypocrisy), and epitomized the greatest reason why I love reading - to put myself in someone else's shoes and to see what life was like for them. To gain a better understanding of different places and times. To not only use my imagination, but to expand my knowledge of people, cultures, and events.

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