“I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it.”
I risked to read this book when I had an exam coming up at the end of the same week. It just sat on that shelf, staring at me, waiting to be read so I told myself that it wouldn’t hurt if I read no more than a couple of chapters in a day. Because that’s the kind of excuse I give myself every time, believing that I’ll stick to it, but never do. Obviously this time it was a lie too, because I finished it in 5 days (just 2 days before my exam) going along with a hectic routine, and procrastinating all my homework. All because it was just SO unputdownable. I literally used to spend all my time thinking about going back to this book at the end of the day.
This book, in simple words, is basically time machine which takes you back to the 1960’s America, a time when racism was hugely prevalent. This book is alternatively narrated in first person by 3 people. Two black maids, Aibileen and Minny, and a white woman, Skeeter who’s writing a book on the lives of black maids in Jackson, Mississippi and the relations they share with the white families they’re working for. It is, obviously, a clandestine project because of the sensitive topic which could put them at a great risk.
Kathryn Stockett did a wonderful job on this book, especially considering that it was her debut novel. The plot is really strong and powerful, and the way she breathed life into the characters of this book, it all really came alive for me. Not just the three protagonists, but all the secondary characters were fairly well developed. This book doesn’t just tell us about how the lives of black people were dominated and controlled by whites to a large extent, but it also has just as much to say about how important freedom is. Freedom of expressing opinions, freedom of fighting back, freedom from societal norms, freedom of living the life on our own terms and nobody else’s, freedom of loving someone irrespective of their color and freedom of living as equals. Because there’s one thing which is common in all of us and which goes beyond any differences of race, color, gender, etc. and it’s that we’re all human beings. All of this and so much more in one book, all with a pinch of feminism to make this book stronger. Like one of the quotes from the book… “Wasn’t that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.”
Kathryn shared a quote at the end of this book by Howell Raines whilst talking about her inspiration for writing this book which was…
There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation. For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism.
I’d say it may be a tricky and sensitive subject but Kathryn handled it brilliantly, especially with the thick southern dialect which made the characters all the more real. I was only 10 pages into this book and I already knew that I’d love this one. It’s just that gripping. It stays on a very serious note for the most part, but turns effortlessly amusing at times. And most importantly, it ends on a rather positive note saying that it’s never too late to start a new life or start doing something you’ve never done.
I would love to say a lot more about this book and right now I’d want nothing more than to discuss and talk endlessly about this book and my favorite parts but that would ruin it for you if you haven’t read it. So I’m going to keep this review spoiler free. But there’s one thing I’ll say… There are a lot of books which i have read and loved but there’s only a few which have actually teared me up. And The Help is one of them.
So I ain’t on tell you how good this book be in my words any more. I on tell you in Minny’s words. Law! This book be real good. So you don’t walk your butt to a book shop and buy it, you run it!