17 journalers for this copy...
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heard good things about this book so ordered it thru my bookclub...
From Publishers Weekly
Set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams.
So the above review sums up the basic plot, but I must say I really enjoyed this book. I started reading it on a Friday and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning as I wanted to know where it would go next. The characters each had their own voice, thus you would move from what Skeeter's thoughts and views were to that of Minny or Aibileen. (Don't you just love those southern names...there are some great ones in here!) Having grown up neither in this era or place, I found myself quite interested in the details shared about both. I look forward to hearing the thoughts of those of you who lived thru the period of marches and segregation.
Another aspect of this that I liked was the flaws shown by these central characters. In their shared effort of creating this book they come to learn more about both themselves and each other. This is a book about love and suffering, hatred and faith, fear and courage. It is about women of strength and dignity who carry on and manage to care about others despite an unjust system. It is a beautiful book, unforgettable in many ways. It is thought-provoking, humorous and compelling. The desperation of the maids and the bitchy nature of some of their white employers is compelling in it's honesty. I definately would say that this is a book I would pick up and read again at some point. The book came with a blue ribbon as a bookmark which I left in it...let's see if it manages to travel with the book?
"Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack." --Virginia Woolf
How this bookray works:
* Someone will PM you for your address, PM them back and provide your address
* When you receive the book, please make a journal entry letting everyone know that you received it
* Put the book at the top of your TBR pile (under other rings/rays that arrived first)
* Read the book (take your time and enjoy the book, don't feel rushed to finish it but try to pass it on within a month - others are waiting!)
* When the end is in sight, check the book's journal and PM the next person to get their address
* Finish the book, make another journal entry and let everyone know what you thought of the book then send the book to the next person on the list (feel free to use the cheapest shipping method available & delivery confirmation is your choice), make release notes or journal entry to let everyone know that it's in the mail
* END OF THE RAY, The last person on the ray~ it would be great if you try and continue the ray, perhaps a RABCK - look at wish lists, or release it into the wild or pass along to a friend to enjoy!
***I tried to accomodate all of the shipping preferences I was given...hope you all enjoy the read***
Please feel free to PM me at any time with questions
jlautner ~ CA (can ship anywhere)
valpete ~ CA (us only)
ladybug74 ~ AL (us only)
glade1 ~ NC (us only)
300dogs ~ NJ
dvg ~ NJ (us only)
krl112 ~ NJ (us only)
rrrcaron ~ NH (us only)
mysscyn ~ TX (us only)
easterngirl71 ~ IL (us only)
dabercro ~ Utah (us only)
dg7500 ~ PA (us or canada)
luckof ~ Canada (prefers Canada only)
hyphen8 ~ Hawaii (us preferred can do INTL)
judygreeneyes ~ CA (can ship anywhere)
agrace ~ TX (us preferred can do INTL)
mellion108 ~ MI (can ship anywhere)
penelopewanders ~ Switzerland (EU preferred)
iliotropio ~ Belgium (EU shipping preferred)
Qantaqa ~ Germany (EU preferred)
karen07814 ~ UK (EU preferred)
Lizzy-stardust ~ UK (can ship anywhere)
arturogrande ~ UK (can ship anywhere)
Bookworm-lady~ Spain (EU preferred)
cinderess ~ UK (UK shipping preferred)
purple-pixie ~ UK (can ship anywhere)
lils74 ~ Nepal (can ship anywhere)
mummafour ~ AU (can ship anywhere)
bookworm76 ~ AU (can ship anywhere)
leodog58 ~ VA (no shipping prefernce stated)
bookczuk ~ SC (needs to be last)
"There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great social import. Even as the tranced swain, the booklover yearns to tell others of his bliss. He writes letters about it, adds it to the postscript of all manner of communications, intrudes it into telephone messages, and insists on his friends writing down the title of the find. Like the simple-hearted betrothed, once certain of his conquest, “I want you to love her, too!” It is a jealous passion also. He feels a little indignant if he finds that any one else has discovered the book, too."
this book is off on a journey travelling thru the states, to Canada, Switzerland, Spain, the UK, and much more!
"A book is a mysterious object, I said, and once it floats out into the world, anything can happen. All kinds of mischief can be caused, and there's not a damned thing you can do about it. For better or worse, it's completely out of your control."
I don't know if she answered the question, and she admits that she can't positively speak for someone with such a different experience from her own. But she tries, and in the process brings home details of southern life that many of us may not be aware of. Although as she is of a different generation from her subject I don't know how accurate her account is.
As I grew up in the upper midwest and later moved to California, where I joined peace and civil liberties marches and was horrified by the racial violence in the south, I can't speak with authority about this time in that place (the south). But because of my age I do have some memories of some of the details of that time.
The story focuses on three women: "Skeeter", the young white woman, and Minny and Aibileen, black maids. Other major characters are the white women for whom the maids work, especially "Miss Hilly".
Skeeter, who has grown up in Jackson, Miss., is home from college and looking for a writing job. She is naive enough to apply for a position with Harper Row publishing in New York, and for her efforts gets a personal note from an editor there, who offers her advice: write about what disturbs her.
Perhaps because of her exposure to a more open college environment, Skeeter is starting to see her world a little differently and is not simply accepting things as they are. She is also shaken by the sudden disappearance of her dear much-loved "nanny", Constantine. who worked for the family for many years and who essentially raised Skeeter. She knows only that she has moved to Chicago to live with relatives, out of the blue. Throughout the book Skeeter keeps coming back to Constantine and why she left.
It is this experience that leads Skeeter to start looking at the black maids differently, and ultimately to befriend two in particular: Aibileen and Minny. And to start to take risks in her social life.
Skeeter starts to lose ground with the League, a southern institution that in some ways rules the social life of Jackson. Little by little Skeeter becomes an outsider and ultimately takes bold steps to cement that position.
The sections of the book alternate among the different voices, starting with Aibileen, maid to Skeeter's friend Elizabeth, moving to Minny, smart-mouthed maid who moves from home to home, and then to Skeeter. I am of two minds when it comes to writing out dialect as Stockett has done here with the maids. Is it insulting? Is it condescending? I'm not sure, but it appears that Stockett has a good ear for it. In fact, I felt that her writing of the maids' voices was often better and more real than the writing of Skeeter's.
The writing is a bit clumsy in some ways. The incessant use of the word "alright", which should really be "all right" (I know, I'm picky, but this one bugs me), the made-up words ("furiousness").
The story is the stuff of LifeTime movies in some ways. Female bonding - only this time bonding of privileged white women with underpriviledged black - an act of courage, and epiphanies for more than one character. It would also do well on the big screen, a chick flick with a little edge to it.
It also opens up discussion of the south - how it was then, how it is now, in a very personal way. And the country in general. As I was alive and aware then, I have questions about a couple of things:
* The use of the term "colored". As a child I learned "negro", then "black". Did "colored" hang on in the south way past its prime? (I suspect it did)
* Cigarettes. People knew they were bad for you long before there was a surgeon general's warning. My mother knew in the 1950s, when she smoked. In this novel it's as if such knowledge only became common when it made headlines. As with a lot of other elements in our lives, we tend to "know" long before we are told.
Like princess-peapod I am interested in how others view this work, particularly those who may have closer ties to the south and who lived through the 60s as I did. For that reason I am glad the bookring is so large!
oh, and I used the blue ribbon bookmark while reading.
Mailed to valpete.
USPS tracking no: 9102785091401025633552
But, I can't agree with all the high ratings it has received. While heartfelt and a page-turner, THE HELP just isn't very well crafted. Many of the characters in THE HELP (e.g., the main antagonist)are two-dimensional and some of the key plot points just seem contrived and implausible.
The book does a decent job of depicting a very interesting time of transition (both for the races and for women), but it lacks nuance, and does not really challenge the reader.
I'll be sending it along to Ladybug74.
I really liked Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny, and Celia. Even though Minny did the "Terrible Awful" thing, which I personally thought was gross & sick, who could really blame her with the way that Hilly treated her?
Because I live in the Black Belt and wasn't born until the mid 1970's, I have grown up around many black, white, and bi-racial people. There is still some prejudice in the South, but I would have to say we have gone a long way since the time period in which this book was set. Things have changed a lot in the South, even since I was a child.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
mailed to glade1
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
I finished reading this yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It did not sugar coat 60's race relations but also was not relentlessly depressing. I think the author, as she said in her afterword, tried very hard to find a balanced truth in the idea that there are as many stories and points of view as there are individuals. I think she generally found believable voices for all three narrators, with the occasional lapse into less believable language for some of them.
I like this book very much and will recommend it. Thanks for including me in the ring.
I mailed it this morning, via Media Mail, to 300dogs in New Jersey.
I was born in 1971 and my family is from New Jersey. I aksed my Dad if that sort of thing took place in his town growing up, seperate fountains, schools, etc but he said no. It's so strange to think that that was common practice just a few years before I was born. It seems so archaic now.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Mailed out to dvg in Flanders, NJ. I'm not sure what happened to your ribbon bookmark, but there is a nice one with books on it instead! Thanks again princess-peapod for starting this ray!
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
This was an amazing read! I was a 60s baby but born here in the NE. I cannot imagine the lives of these women prior to reading this book. I am grateful for the opportunity to read this book; to watch each of the characters evolve into their own; to see the strengths and weaknesses of each of these women; the love, the sadness. I must admit that I was touched by all the characters, even the ones I didn't like! I just finished the very last page and I think I'm still absorbing it all.
It shows us how far we have come and how far we have yet to go as a society and as a member of the human race. This book should be a must read for everyone. Perhaps if everyone did, we would be a much better people.
I might come back and add a few thoughts. Right now I'm going to see if I have a blue ribbon to add to the book. I want to try and run it to the post office before it closes so krl112 can read it. =)
PM'ing next person in line for their address.
Did anyone else cry at the end? Maybe I'm sensitive, but I found it very tough to read the end chapter without getting choked up.
Thank you so much princess-peapod for including me in this bookring. I really enjoyed the book, and I'm sending it to the next person on the list this morning. Enjoy!
Thanks so much for including me.
Edit Nov 30th I am SO sorry to be taking so long with this book. I keep picking it up and putting it down again. If it doesn't catch my interest within a day or so I'll give up and move it on to Easterngirl.
I grew up in Western NY totally protected from any racial problems of the era. We were probably a 95% white communtity but I had some black friends. It was never thought of that they were black and I was white. They were just my friends.
This book just makes me want to cry to think that people could treat each other in such a horrible manner.
My sister-in-law is black and we've had many discussions of race and this book helped me understand better where her references are coming from.
I also read it from the point of view as being one of "the help" I decided to change jobs and be a nanny 12 years ago and it always makes me laugh when the moms of the little priviliged kids find out I am not the grandma. I am the help and most treat me the way they think is right. I used to be a Realtor, I did collections, I ran a count room at a big store, I was a front end manager, I drove a bus into NYC but in a country where there is supposedly no class system I am the help.
Edited to say Mailed to easterngirl71 on 12/16 Enjoy!
I really enjoyed reading this book...loved the characters, as well as the way the plot was laid out & written. It still amazes me that in my own lifetime, we treated people as 'less than' simply due to the color of their skin. We've made great strides over the years, but some days it seems like we still have a very long way to go. Thanks again for sharing this wonderful book...I'm happy to have been able to take part in the experience.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Winging it's way across the Northern Border and into Canada to luckof.
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I have the address for the next on the list -- this will be travelling shortly.
thanks for sharing!
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
On its way to the next person on the list! Happy travels...and safe journey -- sorry for the delay!
My grandmother once worked at a club that I'm fairly sure she wouldn't have been allowed to join. Not that their official literature is likely to have said so, but "everyone knew" that certain people simply weren't allowed to be members - they could only get in if they were the help. However, things seem to have changed, since the current membership director has a Asian surname. :)
judygreeneyes asked to be skipped, so I'll be sending this to agrace soon.
Free your books - help spread the words!
Growing up in the late 60's in a Navy town in Connecticut, there was little open prejudice, but my husband's experience was different as he is four years older than I am and grew up in Texas. It amazes me what such a little time and space can make!
I loved the characters and laughed out loud at the "Terrible Awful". I did tear up a bit towards the end and, of course wanted more; that's what a good book will do.
Now for the good stuff...I loved this book! I liked the story so much more than I expected. I thought it would just be a cozy little feel good story, but it was gut wrenching, sad, funny, and inspiring.
Aibileen is the heart of this story. Her experiences of raising white child after white child, only to have them grow up with ideals just like their white parents, is so touching. The story calls back to such an ugly time in history—seriously? a separate bathroom for the "colored" maid so that no one in the white family has to risk catching "colored" diseases? Minny is the spirit of the story. She refuses to be broken down by whites or her abusive husband. Her mouth often gets her into trouble, but she holds on to her sense of self.
Skeeter, the upper-class white woman who goes off to college and gets all kinds of crazy, liberal ideas in her head, takes on a project that could end up with her being run out of town and Minny and Aibileen without jobs (or worse, probably dead). I was so intrigued by the story of how these women join forces and by the often outlandish citizens of Jackson. Admit it, we all read this just waiting for Miss Hilly to get what was coming to her. The story is charming and unsettling at the same time.
I think that Stockett does a much better job of building the African-American characters in the book. The whites are rather one-dimensional, even Skeeter. That's not to say I didn't like the book because I did like it very much, but I think Skeeter could have been more than the tall, awkward white lady with the budding social conscience.
I grew up in eastern Tennessee, and I loved the dialect of these characters. I could hear them talking while I was reading. I'm going to try to get the audiobook version of this book. This is a story that begs to be read aloud, and I would love to hear this in audio form.
Again, I apologize for keeping the book with me for so long. I've let myself get far behind in my book mailing. Penelopewanders already has a copy of the book and asked to be skipped. I mailed the book today to iliotropio. Thanks for sharing this, princess-peapod!