I really wanted to like this book, even love it, but I have to say I was underwhelmed and disappointed, and should have listened to the old adage, never judge a book by its cover, or the NYT's best-seller list. Unlike most of the reviews on Amazon, I COULD put this book down and did have a hard time picking it up again. It took me three months to read and I had to force myself to finish, so I could start another book.
I found the dialect problematic, (hey, I had a hard time with Huck Finn, too) difficult to read, one sided and demeaning. I know this book is not a sociological analysis, but I felt it was more of a soap opera than a novel of substance. I thought the characters were caricatures, and overused stereo types. After I finished the book, I watched the interview by Katie Couric and the author, and I wasn't surprised to find out, that she did very little research.
I guess I expected so much more from The Help, because of the subject matter. Instead, I was frustrated by the poor character development, contrived plot, and the key plot devices falling short of their goals. I know the movie is coming out this summer, and I do want to see it, but this is one time I am hoping it doesn't follow the book precisely.
I grew up during this time and the events were pertinent to my generation, but since I lived in Pennsylvania and not Mississippi, I couldn't grasp the overt racism or the fact that someone else raised you, other than you own mother. While these women were in Junior League, I was in high school, college, then moved to California, the home of Make Love not War and F*** the Establishment. Everyone was pretty mellow, while smoking copious amounts of pot to help them accept and love one another. (Except the older generation, whom you couldn't trust). It was a little disconcerting to learn that in 1963, in the south, some things hadn't changed since Gone WIth the WInd, my only point of reference.
Just when the book started to get interesting, it ended abruptly, leaving me feeling dissatisfied and short-changed. After I had invested so much time in this novel, I felt I needed a little more closure, and a little less left to my imagination. But then I am a wimp when it comes to endings that make me do all the work.
I wonder if things are really that much different now-a-days. I live in an area where there are an inordinate amount of illegal immigrants raising children, while their mothers work full time. I know for a fact they are not well paid, and in some cases, treated like second class citizens. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a mother justify, that even though their nanny doesn't speak a word of English, it's not a problem, because at least their child will be bi-lingual, I would be pretty wealthy.
I know this book is the darling of book clubs everywhere and got an overwhelming approval rating on Amazon, but personally, I just didn't like it. In my opinion I found it simplistic and all the characters, cliché. I am glad so many people are reading it, because it does, show a side that you don't find in history books. Just promise me that you won't compare it to To Kill a Mockingbird.