Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I'm currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I was skeptical at first, but find myself enjoying the novel.

It's the fictional story of a group of black maids who work for white women in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. But, of course, this story was true for thousands of black women who had no choice but to work for white women in the U.S. Probably still is true. Sad, but true.

Although skeptical about reading the book, I find myself thinking about my grandmother, who herself worked as help for a white family and raised their kids. Many of the details of the maids' lives (how they had to budget, keeping a garden in order to eat, the internal struggle of raising someone else's kids while feeling like they're neglecting their own kids) seem authentic in the novel so far.

My skepticism, however, came from a white woman author writing a black woman's story. Wondering if any of you have read it or are reading it? Your thoughts? What about looking through a lens of social justice, equality, or being culturally empowered? Would this book be as accepted or "acclaimed" if written by a black woman author? Is this another "let us tell you about your experience" story?

These are the questions I'm wrestling with as I read... and wondering if any of you can help with The Help?


D-Place said...

I did read it and enjoyed it but must agree that I don't think it would have gotten as much acclaim or exposure if it had been written by a Black woman. I think the woman did a good job of writing it and not skirting around some of the issues that you speak of. She actually did a good job of addressing them and the Black women in the book seem authentic in my opinion.

Troy N. said...

I read this book and was more than convinced that good writing supercedes color. However the one question that does come to mind was the exact resource(s) for the book. She (the author) was on C-Span a few months back and it rounded out the who and where she was coming from. I cringe at the thought of this becoming a movie, of which I know it will be nothing like the great book that it is. It is a black history lesson within itself. I was kind if surprised Mr. Smith didn't catch this book earlier on:) Oh well..