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Book review: The Help

I don’t need to sell you on this book: it’s already a bestseller and most of you have probably read it. I’d like to talk about it though. I really loved it. In fact, I devoured it in three days. It was one of those books that’s easy to read and has a driving story line with enough mysteries to make me want answers. However, the whole time I was reading it I kept asking myself if I’d like it more if it were written by a black woman? The author is white and Southern who (I found out in the afterward) actually grew up with a black maid. One of her main characters is a white, Southern writer who decides to write about what it’s like for the black maids in her town. To accomplish this, she has to take some risks like driving into the black part of town and lying to her mother. The risks the black maids take talking to her are even greater, like being beaten and losing their jobs. The character writer gives her proceeds back to the maids. The real writer is probably getting rich, especially when Oprah decides to make the novel into a movie. Was it her story to tell? Yes. Is it white guilt that’s making me feel pissy about her success? Probably. I mean, Sebastian Junger wrote and got rich off a true story about a bunch of struggling fishermen and I didn’t feel pissy about that. No. It never crossed my mind. Maybe The Help touched a nerve because I am a relatively rich white woman and in this story the rich white women were morally bankrupt and just plain yucky. I’d much rather identify with the dignified, honorable black maids. Did anybody else have these feelings?


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