A few weeks ago, I wrote here about a book I was reading and finding hard to put down. The Help by Kathryn Stockett was released February of last year, and it found a place on the Top Fiction List in a short time. I noticed that last week it had hit #1. It doesn't surprise me at all.
Ms. Stockett's story is her first novel to be published, and she had a hard time accomplishing that feat. She was turned down by about 50 agents before finally being accepted. Her book is set in Mississippi in the 1960's Civil Rights era. It's about the white women who live there and the African-American women who work for them--the help. The characters jump off the pages as very real people, and like any good melodrama, the reader wants to cheer for some, hiss at others, and shed a tear for some.
We see prejudice, independence, anger, resentment, joy, and more as the story moves on. Part of the tale involves a mystery regarding the disappearance of one of the maids. "She moved to Chicago" Skeeter's mother tells her. End of discussion. Skeeter, just graduated from college is devastated that she has lost the woman who raised her. Skeeter finally unravels the mystery but doesn't like the things she learns. This is only one story in the book. There are so many others, tales about the women who hire the maids, and the maids and their families, their church, hopes, dreams and more.
Yesterday, my Book Club discussed this book, and a lively discussion it was. All of us were young women in the period in which the book is set, and it triggered long-buried memories for all of us. The discussion triggered many things, including the baring of a few souls. A good book will do that.
This is a book I will remember as one of the best I've read. One editorial review says it will become a classic in the same way To Kill A Mockingbird or Gone With The Wind did. I think that is highly possible. It's a lengthy novel, but that's not a problem as I found I didn't want to put it down. And when it ended, I found myself wanting to read more about the characters I'd come to know well.
You can read about the book at http://www.amazon.com/Help-Kathryn-Stockett/dp/0399155341/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1 Scroll down the page for editorial and reader reviews.