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The Help

The Help

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A novel written partly in dialect has got to be so good to work, and this one is that good. This debut novel feels like a classic. Set in early 1960's Jackson, Mississippi, where there is a black maid in every middle class home, the maids are trusted with raising the children but not polishing the silverware. The Help is the story of one white young woman, Skeeter, who wants to be a writer. She pitches a New York publisher with a predictable idea, and the publisher tells her to come up with something original. Then Skeeter starts interviewing the maids of her home town, asking them about how they're treated, and how they feel about how they're treated. What they tell her is riveting and, in some cases, repulsive.

Not only is the subject captivating, but this author's use of language is so rich. When she's describing the way Skeeter feels about the young man who dumped our heroine, she says, "There are eight empty rocking chairs on my porch. I don't ask him to sit in any of them." And then there's this. "My hands turn to fists. The sound of the ice cream churning outside sounds like bones crunching." Or my favorite, "I wash my hands, wonder how an awful day could turn even worse. It seems like at some point you'd just run out of awful."

This is an author I will look forward to reading again. Amazing talent. The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

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