your thoughts on "The Help" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 07-11-2011, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's a bookclub book, and as crazy popular as it has been, I was surprised that there wasn't a discussion here about it. 

Frankly, it irritated me for many reasons, but I don't want to soapbox unless anybody here wants to talk about it...  most of the folks I encounter on a daily basis really liked it and I don't want to run it down if they enjoyed it, ya know?  anyone else?


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#2 of 18 Old 07-16-2011, 04:49 AM
 
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I found the book to be immediately engaging ... A great quality for a book club book. My book club always chose challenging tomes that few of us were able to penetrate, so died an untimely death.

However, i found the book to be facile, superficial and full of stereotypes, not just racial. It felt like it was written by an outsider to the world it puported to enter. There was nothing overtly offensive, but i just felt the characters felt like characters, not real people.


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#3 of 18 Old 07-18-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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I agree with both of you.

 

I read it when it first came out, before the hype really kicked into high gear.  I thought it was ok and was really surprised by all the unconditional love it is receiving. 

 

Something about the ending really bothered me.  I felt like the publisher must have told the author "end it NOW!" as the ending just didn't do the book any favors.  The bulk of the book was so super-detailed (enough about the stupid crack in the table already) yet the ending seems rushed.

 

Our book club picked it for next month's selection.  I will likely end up biting my tongue during much of the discussion.


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#4 of 18 Old 07-18-2011, 12:35 PM
 
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I hated it just as I hated The Secret Life of Bees for reasons that only a southerner could "get". The dialect was wrong. The line crossing of black/white relationships did not happen .... while I agree this is a work of fiction, I think the best fiction has a grain of truth in it. I did not feel the truth in this story. I was born in the late sixties and some of my earliest memories are of the help in other people's homes with the white stockings and the nurse uniforms. I do not recall any love, warmth or friendship between the moms of my friends and the help, which were always black women in south Georgia.
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#5 of 18 Old 07-18-2011, 12:57 PM
 
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I hated it just as I hated The Secret Life of Bees for reasons that only a southerner could "get". The dialect was wrong. The line crossing of black/white relationships did not happen .... while I agree this is a work of fiction, I think the best fiction has a grain of truth in it. I did not feel the truth in this story. I was born in the late sixties and some of my earliest memories are of the help in other people's homes with the white stockings and the nurse uniforms. I do not recall any love, warmth or friendship between the moms of my friends and the help, which were always black women in south Georgia.


Interesting to learn this. I am a northerner born in the early 70s and therefore, have no first hand experience with this topic.

 

Speaking of line crossing, I thought the one man's choice of the "uncoventional" wife was not to be believed in that time period.  I can't remember his name, it was the one Hilly pined for.  He married that sort of broken, tragic girl who didn't fit in with the rest of his social circle.  Maybe I am wrong but I would think back then, in the setting painted by the author, that he would have definately stayed with the "safe bet" when picking a spouse.
 

 


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#6 of 18 Old 07-18-2011, 05:06 PM
 
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See I am an "older" southern girl ( almost 50) and I remember relationships just like what was pictured in the book.  Loved the book and can't wait for the movie!

1xmom and Kanna like this.
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#7 of 18 Old 07-19-2011, 06:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well.. some of what i disliked about it has already been said (the times had a pretty good review of it) -- why the Black women have dialect and the White ladies, although southern, don't seem to use anything other than standard english... 

i feel like whenever something would come up that could be a deeper subject for exploration, the author would gloss over it.  The domestic abuse, for example.. why bring it up within the book and never address it?  Then i compare that treatment of domestic abuse with the color purple and it just steams me! 

or the lack of even having skeeter think about the desegregation of her alma mater. 

and, according to the legislation at the time in mississippi, it was illegal for anyone to distribute information or pamphlets or literature  "urging or presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and Negroes"  so... that book wouldn't have been put in any Jackson bookstores.  There also seemed to be a little date fudging with the James Meredith situation, too. 

i know a bookclub book is supposed to be light reading, in most cases, but i kind of resent that the book has been such a bestseller and that it is so nicey nice about something that really wasn't.. i guess the time period in my mind deserves a little more thorough or thoughtful exploration of the subject.  since stockett decided to talk about segregation, then TALK about it, you know?  in real literature, an author will at least throw in one token character at the very least, to discuss or show a thought process that delves into something at least a little bit for contrast.

it kind of belittles (to me) the fact that people freaking DIED to end that b.s.  and all we get from her is pattycake.  (sorry.. i need to vent before our bookclub meets and i actually offend people i have to work with IRL). 

<3

 


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#8 of 18 Old 07-19-2011, 04:06 PM
 
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Well ... good to get your venting out.  It's a relief for me to have heard that others were less-than-wowed by the book.

 

But, it's so darn hard to find a book that everyone agrees on and can get read in between caring for kids/working, etc. ... so I see why book clubs lap this one up.  It's engaging, easy to read.  And there seems to be a little bit of ... how do I put it ... let's alleviate our guilt as white people in it?  Like, we're all good people, and think racism is horrible.  

 

oh well, onward ...

 

Right now I am reading "Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey."  It's a great book with photographs and excerpts from the diaries of many women who went West with their husbands in the mid 1800's.  A lot of death and illness in there.  And cooking pancakes over smoky campfires in the rain ...  One women described attending the birth of a fellow-traveller as having to *wade* through the wagon within which the  birth was taking place ... it was raining so hard.  They had to put the woman up on chairs during the birth to keep her out of the water collecting in the wagon.  


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#9 of 18 Old 07-20-2011, 06:51 AM
 
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Right now I am reading "Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey."  It's a great book with photographs and excerpts from the diaries of many women who went West with their husbands in the mid 1800's.  A lot of death and illness in there.  And cooking pancakes over smoky campfires in the rain ...  One women described attending the birth of a fellow-traveller as having to *wade* through the wagon within which the  birth was taking place ... it was raining so hard.  They had to put the woman up on chairs during the birth to keep her out of the water collecting in the wagon.  



This sounds both interesting and horrible. I don't handle human suffering well but I might need to check it out.

 

I agree, I am not at all surprised that The Help is so popular with book clubs. 

 


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#10 of 18 Old 07-20-2011, 08:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hildare View Post

i know a bookclub book is supposed to be light reading, in most cases, but i kind of resent that the book has been such a bestseller and that it is so nicey nice about something that really wasn't.. i guess the time period in my mind deserves a little more thorough or thoughtful exploration of the subject.

I so agree with you.
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#11 of 18 Old 07-20-2011, 08:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Subhuti View Post

Right now I am reading "Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey."  It's a great book with photographs and excerpts from the diaries of many women who went West with their husbands in the mid 1800's.  A lot of death and illness in there.  And cooking pancakes over smoky campfires in the rain ...  One women described attending the birth of a fellow-traveller as having to *wade* through the wagon within which the  birth was taking place ... it was raining so hard.  They had to put the woman up on chairs during the birth to keep her out of the water collecting in the wagon.  

I read that a couple of months back. What struck me was the terrible hardships these women endured and the way they really had no choice in the migration west. Their fathers or husbands just up and made them go.
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#12 of 18 Old 07-20-2011, 04:57 PM
 
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I know ... we have changes in civil and marriage law, voting laws and integration of education and workplace to thank for it not being like that any more ... oh, and the Sixties!

 

 


Kids. I got two of 'em.
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#13 of 18 Old 07-21-2011, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:

 

Right now I am reading "Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey."  It's a great book with photographs and excerpts from the diaries of many women who went West with their husbands in the mid 1800's.  A lot of death and illness in there.  And cooking pancakes over smoky campfires in the rain ...  One women described attending the birth of a fellow-traveller as having to *wade* through the wagon within which the  birth was taking place ... it was raining so hard.  They had to put the woman up on chairs during the birth to keep her out of the water collecting in the wagon.  



that sounds pretty interesting.  i think i will library request it.  thanks for the rec.


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#14 of 18 Old 07-21-2011, 04:38 PM
 
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So, how was the book club???

Kids. I got two of 'em.
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#15 of 18 Old 07-21-2011, 06:34 PM
 
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So, how was the book club???

If you were asking me .....

the women in my group have all been expats to Asian countries. They are not from the south but they did have cooks, drivers and house cleaners in Asia .. even if they were just a SAHM. .. its just expected there. They liked the book but did agree that it seemed a tad unrealistic since the Civil Rights movement was so quick and violent to make certain changes.
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#16 of 18 Old 01-22-2012, 12:09 PM
 
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I really, really enjoyed the book. The movie wasn't as good for me.

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#17 of 18 Old 03-21-2012, 10:48 AM
 
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I can to this section for a different purpose and then saw this older thread.  I finally saw the movie and I didn't like it any more than the book.


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#18 of 18 Old 03-24-2012, 10:40 PM
 
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I too wasn't impressed with it. It came with high recommendations from a friend -- I'm in Europe and she sent it to me from US, so I thought since she went through the trouble it must be really good. I just didn't get all the buzz. The book seemed to skim over some issues and not really go into more details, while it was full of unnecessary details in other parts. The characters seemed to be an either or, either all goody-goody, or nasty to the bone, with no shades of gray. I believe people are rarely like that.

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