Minutes ago I finished the last few chapters of “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.
Everyone has heard of this book. I don’t know why I avoided reading it for so long. I have my brother, Tim, to thank for giving it to me as a Christmas present this past year. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it has made its way high on my to-do list.
I don’t want to go into great detail about all the amazing aspects of the book, but there are two things I want to share.
First of all, I was blown away by Stockett’s use of language. As far as creative writing college classes go, I’ve taken a poetry writing class and a fiction writing class, and both of my professors could not stress enough the importance of showing, and not just simply telling your reader what is going on in your story. Stockett hit the nail on the head every single time. I could see, smell, hear, and feel everything that she described. Every character was so distinct and real and consistent. I laughed, cried, even felt a burning anger toward some of the characters at times (well, 100% of the time toward Hilly Holbrook). I can’t lie; I envy her ability to do that. She is now my inspiration to be as descriptive and unique as possible when I write.
Secondly, there is no right or wrong time to read this book. I am 21 years old. I never had to experience any of the bizarre and horrible aspects of segregation when I was growing up. I am grateful for that. But even though I’ve never experienced any of it first hand, the book still touched my heart. Nobody is ever too young to realize how important a book like this one is for any generation. Stockett does an excellent job of reminding us that, even though we think we’ve put all of these race issues behind us, we can’t forget that the past happened. We must learn from it to grow and move forward.
The quote from NPR on the cover of the book is spot on:
“This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill A Mockingbird…If you read only one book…let this be it.”