The Help, Kathryn Stockett, G Putnam's Sons, 2009, 444 pp
As of this writing, The Help has been on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list for 61 weeks. That is a phenomenon in today's publishing business. The average stay on this list appears to be about 3 weeks. When my sister and my niece kept urging me to read the book, I concluded that I had better see what all the excitement was about.
In my opinion, The Help might just be the perfect bestseller. It is a wholly American story, a women's story, the writing is light but acceptable and it has a short, memorable one-word title. Also in this year of compulsive bashing of our first African-American President, how could one go wrong with a story about deep Southern racism in the 1960s?
Kathryn Stockett, a lovely youngish White Southern woman, managed to trump one of my main beefs: White people writing about Black folks. She does it realistically, sensitively and makes it work because her story takes place at the exact place where Black met White: working in their homes, cooking, cleaning and raising their children.
I will not regurgitate the plot here because it has been covered innumerable times in reviews. In fact, I'll just say: read it! It is good. It is about all of us. It tells the truth: give oppressed people a voice and they will run with it, take it to heart and work out their own ways to break free.
(The Help is available in hardcover on the shelf at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)