Sunday, January 30, 2011

Drive-By Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hello guys, I hope you all had a great weekend! I know I did. I just got back from Gatlinburg, Tennessee a few hours ago and now I get to start back schooling this week (greeeeat).

I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett a couple of weeks ago, I just haven't gotten around to putting up a drive-by review of it yet.

First of all, this is a PHENOMENAL book! Unbelievably fantastic; I literally could not put it down (I hate to hear that in a review, but it's the God's honest truth)! I started it on a Friday and finished it two days later on a Sunday. It's by no means an "easy read' considering it's a pretty large book. Not just by the number of pages but the physical size of it also. However, there are a good many pages: 451 to be exact.

This was Kathryn Stockett's debut novel and it was published in 2009. I just heard about it a few months back so I decided to get a reading sample of it through iBooks on my phone and I instantly loved it.

The book is set in the sixties and is told by three characters; two maids, Aibileen and Minny, who work for Southern white women, and a recent college graduate, Skeeter, who aspires to be a writer (and is best friends with Aibileen's boss). Skeeter's real name is actually Eugenia, but everybody calls her Skeeter because of her unusual nose. Each chapter has a certain character speaking and the stories in the chapters often overlap, which I liked, because it showed different perspectives in a situation.

The voice and language of each character is distinct in its own way and I felt that Kathryn did an excellent job in creating complex characters who I actually felt emotionally connected to.

One thing that got me interested was Skeeter and how she aspired to become a writer, because I also have that aspiration and wanted to see how the author portrayed the struggle of an author. If that makes sense. And since this was Kathryn's first novel, I can't help but think about how she herself must have struggled to get published much like her character, Skeeter. I'd like to think that, in a way, Skeeter was a persona of Kathryn to some degree. Maybe I'm just over-thinking it though.

The one thing I loved (as a writer) but disliked (as a reader) was how the chapters ended. When there was an intense moment in the chapter or some kind of a major event that I was anxious to learn more about, the chapter would end in a cliffhanger and the next chapter would be a different character sharing their story. So then I knew I would have to keep reading through that character's story to figure out what happened in the previous character's story. I think that is why I finished the book so quickly, because I was utterly immersed into the story. I didn't so much as hate how the chapters ended, but when I get so enveloped in a story it made me a little upset for a few seconds. From an author's perspective, I completely understand why she did them this way, because the author wants to keep readers interested enough to keep reading through the book.

I'm not even going to hesitate in giving this book a ten out of 10. And as it stands, this is my second favorite book of all time, which is saying quite a bit since I've read almost forty books just in the past few months.

I assume you wonder what my favorite book of all time is, and the answer is it is not one book, but three in a series. I talk about it quite often, and I'm currently about 30% of the way through the third and final book in the Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson. I started The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest this weekend and I hope to finish it in about a week, God willing. (And if I don't get bogged down with too much schoolwork.)

If you haven't read The Help, pick it up at your local bookstore or borrow it from your local library (there I go plugging libraries again!). Even though I'm quite a cheapskate, I actually bought this book for around $12 brand new at Amazon. That was a few months ago so it may be cheaper now, so if you haven't read it, GO GET IT! Also, they have already filmed the movie adaptation of this and I will definitely be seeing it when it premieres this fall!

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