I just finished "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. It was recommended to me by two of my closest friends, one who updates her blog and one who does not. :) It took some time for me to become fully interested in it, but once I did, I managed to read 500 pages in just 2 1/2 days. I'm a fast reader, but that's fast even for me. Let's just say I took 2 really long baths after the kids went to bed and my motive for taking the girls to the pool was multi-factorial. :)
In any case, I couldn't put it down and fell in love with so many of the characters. In a lot of ways it reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird, a book that will always have a place of honor in my heart's library. Like TKaM, it paints a painful picture in such a beautiful way. It's not preachy, sanctimonious or intended to guilt the reader. It is simply honest. The language is touching, the story is heartfelt, and the characters are genuine. In fact, my one real complaint is the ending. Part of me just wanted it to continue another 500 pages, and part of me just wanted an alternate ending in which Elizabeth tells Hilly to "shut up and get out" so Aibileen could get on with the business of raising "Baby Girl." My heart broke for Mae Mobley, and more than once I had to remind myself that I was just reading a book so I wouldn't worry needlessly about her future with such a self-centered mother. (As a side note, I also felt that Skeeter's mother's resolve to simply "not die" from cancer was a weak point in the story. Just sayin').
However, like To Kill a Mockingbird, I thought The Help was a wonderful snapshot of history. I'm just jealous that this was Stockett's first attempt at writing a book. What must that be like?
As a side note, these are the books I've read so far this summer:
- The Midwife's Confession, by Diane Chamberlain
- Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella - (See previous blog entry)
- The Tuesday Club Murders, by Agatha Christie - (I needed a beach mystery; one simply cannot go to the beach without a mystery)
- The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie - (I was home, but I needed another mystery)
- The House on Tradd Street, by Karen White - (I needed a third mystery--notice a theme?)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling - (8th time reading it - I had to get ready for the movie, didn't I?)
- The Help, Kathryn Stockett
- The Summer We Read Gatsby, by Danielle Ganek - (in progress)