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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Now here's a book that doesn't need my help at all.

The only problem with "The Help" by Kathyryn Stockett is that it ended. I could have kept reading another four hundred pages and been perfectly content. I think this is one of the best character driven stories I've read in a long time. Kathryn Stockett really had a grip on who each of her characters were and they gave honest performances throughout the book. They had me laughing and crying and cheering.

The main characters were amazingly complex and layered, yet true to form. I liked watching them change when their environments changed and the people they were with changed. It was like unwrapping a piece of chocolate every time I turned the page. For example, I watched Aibleen transform while she was with Mae Mobley, Miss Leefolt, Miss Hilly, Minny, and Miss Skeeter. Also Minny was transformed around Aibleen and Miss Celia and Miss Skeeter. In each instance they acted completely different than I had seen them act before but it was completely believable and true to how people really are. I also saw it with Miss Skeeter and Stuart and Miss Skeeter with her mom vs her dad. Miss Celia, one of my favorite characters, acted one way around Minny, and a different way around her husband, Mr Johnny (who I adored). The relationships between characters also change over the course of the novel as the characters mature and evolve down different paths. I think it was this richness and unique portrayal of how people interact differently to different relationships that impressed me most. Each character was perfectly flawed, multi-dimensional, and believable.

I especially appreciated the interactions between Miss Skeeter and her mother. So often in our lives we can be unhappy with someone we love and dislike what they do, but still fervently love them. I liked how Miss Skeeter was disappointed but accepting of her mother. I felt I could really relate to that.

Besides the excellent characterization in this book, I loved how it explored the lines and boundaries we as human beings create. It explored the stereotypes and the people behind them-- Rich Girl, White Trash, The Help, Miss Popular, Feminist-hippy, etc. The message was soft, yet clear. It taught that "we are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought."

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