Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book and Movie: The Help

My friend, who knows everyone or at least knows somebody who knows somebody who knows everybody, got us tickets to a special preview of the new movie "The Help." I'd been planning on reading this book sometime but was waiting for it to show up and throw itself at me; clearly I needed to speed up this process so I ordered the library to deliver it to my NOOK soonest. And they did.

I read Kathryn Stockett's The Help (Movie Tie-In) very quickly, and enjoyed it. It's about women defining themselves against other women; black and white, young and old, married and single, mothers and childless. It's set in the midst of the civil rights battle; the dominating crisis in the book is the danger posed by whites fighting to keep the status quo, whether by shooting agitating blacks or blackballing liberal whites.

The movie keeps this focus, delivering a touching portrayal of women showing courage, determination, spite, despair, and love. The white Skeeter moves from a rather clueless naivete to a richer idea that the lives of black women do in fact operate by different rules, although they are women like herself. Aibeleen and Minny, the black women who face real risks writing their book with Skeeter, strongly portray their friendship as well as the strengths and risks they face in forging connections with the white families they work for. The movie does a great job of distilling the important relationships in the book and telling the story in a tightly woven, powerful way.

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