A Book That Actually Lives Up to Its Hype! (Looky! Changed the typo!)

May 25th, 2010

The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

It’s great.
Truly great.
At least I thought so.

Here is the author’s web site if you’d like to read a synopsis.  The novel is set on the knife’s edge of the Civil Right’s movement in Jackson, Mississippi.  The story revolves around two black house maids and the women for whom they work.  Reading it is like sitting at the table with your best girlfriends and trading the most scandalous gossip you can imagine. Secrets slowly unfold.  Oppressed people find a way to fight back.  Lives are destroyed. Lives are saved.  Minny makes a chocolate pie…

I don’t know if I will ever be able to eat another piece of chocolate pie as long as I live.

The whole time I was reading it, I just kept thinking – this book has got to be made into a film.  I want to watch this story unfold on screen. I want to see these characters, hear them talk, peek inside their houses and see what everyone is wearing.  Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks is making the film.  So I guess I will get to see Skeeter turn into a hippy and Hilly dress better than everyone else.

The casting will be interesting for this story.  There are so many vivid characters.  Who should play Minny?  What about Skeeter?  And who gets to play mean old Hilly?  Maybe January Jones!  I think she could do a very good socialite villian!  I would love to see Whoopi Goldberg play Abilene.

Some of the cast members have to be relatively young (2o somethings) and I don’t know the young actresses as well as I uh… know the uh.. sort of um… middle aged actresses, but as much as I would like to see Cate Blanchett play Skeeter – I just don’t know if she can pull off 23.  Maybe Gwyneth?  Or is she too old now too?  Gaw! I only know the extremely elderly actresses these days!

What does that mean!

I imagine that a few stars will be born with this film.

Have you read the book yet?


  • Sameday2009:

    Rechelle, I had read the book several months ago, I loved it, it made me feel like I was there and part of their lives. It is a great book.

  • Vickie:

    Yes, I read the book last year and loved it. It was one of my top 5 of the year. I feel the same way about chocolate pie.

  • JJ:

    You recommended it – it is going to the top of my to read list! Your book recommendations are the best.

  • km:

    I had no expectations for this book. When I bring the 2 boys to the library we spend ages in the Children’s area, then as we go to check out I grab a book from the 14 day shelves, totally randomly. It’s turned up some decent finds. I enjoyed this very much. I truly felt the fear at the threat of violence because of mere talking. Just talking… that simple act. This really drove home to me the bravery of those taking a stand and how it often is the culmination of small acts of great bravery that lead to change.
    This was a good read.
    Admission by Korelitz was another 14 day find. The main charachter is an admissions authority at Princeton who is burning out. The fictional tale is barely there but the insight it gives you into the behind the scenes Ivy admission process is well worth the read. Since you have a fine young man in the prom years you might enjoy it too.

  • I read it, enjoyed it, and pictured one of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” – the one with the incredibly low forehead who turns over tables – as Hilly Recommendation for your next read: Olive Kitteridge.

  • Liz:

    I read the book last summer and like you, loved it! My parents were both born in the 40′s, in the south, and were raised with “help”, and like Kathryn Stockett they both loved the ladies who helped raise them. I have always wondered though what it was really like for these women who had to leave their own children and families everyday in order to raise other people’s children and take care of their households. This book was very enlightening. I can’t wait to see the movie!

  • Like everyone else, I liked this book, thought it was a great story…..although I found the dialect annoying (not just in this book, but whenever I read it). The author has been widely criticized for using dialect only for the black characters, since southern white women also speak in dialect. Good point, IMO.

    My other quibble is the polarization…almost every black woman in the book was wonderful, while almost all the white women were seriously flawed. I grew up with “help” and have to argue with these characterizations.

    I would recommend “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” for another look at this era in the south, but with more authentic characters. Not as heavy as “The Help” if that is what you are looking for, but definitely worthwhile.


  • On your recommendation, I’ll have to move this up in the queue.

  • Patricia:

    I read the book about 6 months ago and could not put it down – it is the best book I have read in a while. When it was my turn to pick a book for our book club – I picked The Help , even though I had already read it, because I wanted the ladies in my Book Club to read it. Everyone absolutely loved it, and it was the best discussion we have had for a while – we actually talked about the book at that meeting ! Wait until I tell them there is a movie coming……

  • DenverLARK:

    Yes, I read it last summer for book club. I loved it and have shared my copy with many since then. Fantastic read.

  • annmarie:

    Haven’t read it yet, but it sounds good.

  • Anonymous:

    You REALLY, REALLY need to learn the difference between its and it’s.

  • Anonymous – I can’t find an ‘its’ or an ‘it’s’ in this story. It is possible that I am missing it, but thanks anyway!

  • Jenni in KS:

    Hmmm…someone needs to relax. Thats clearly a typo at the top since its used correctly just below. Yes, my typos are on purpose. Is it driving someone else batty? Grammar mistakes can be such fun when used as weapons;o) But anyway…

    The Help is on my list of books to read. My friend Karen recommended it to me while we were in California earlier this month.

  • tess:

    I absolutely LOVED this book! mmm….you mean you arent craving chocolate pie?? :)

    (being from and in the south, the dialect is pretty on target)

    Can’t believe this was the author’s first book. Hope she writes another!

  • tess:

    I have to go back to my blog to see who all I saw as the characters at the time I was reading it. Some were Whoopie Goldberg, Bailey from Grey’s Anatomy (cant think of her name!), Queen Latifah and the waitresses from the movie ‘Waitress’.

  • Amy:

    Have not read this book but just finished one that I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend:

    “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.

    Henrietta was a young black women who died from cervical cancer in 1951. Her cells were harvested before and after her death and were the only human cells at that time that would not die – they actually multiplied prolifically. Her cells went to research labs all over the world and are still used today (HeLa Cells). If one could weigh the amount of her cells that have multiplied since 1951 the weight would be over several metric tons.

    The book tells us about who she was and what her life was like, how her family was impacted by her contribution to medical research and the ethics regarding tissue ownership that even today, is murky.

  • LucyJoy:

    OH! Another book to add to my list. I just finished “Columbine” & went right into another non-fiction crime/mystery…I think maybe “The Help” needs to climb to the top of my list. Thanks for the recommendation, Rechelle.

  • You REALLY, REALLY have to continue this blog. Love your humor and superwide frame of reference…oh just everything about you is so cool. Do you think you can talk about the oil spill? Would really appreciate your views. Not political though–what with me not having my video camera handy and all…

  • Oh – found it now.

    Hmmmm – It’s is the conjunction for ‘it is’ right?

    It is great. It’s great. I am not seeing the problem – but then again that could be the problem. If I said ‘its great’ that would mean that the ‘great’ belonged to the ‘it’ which is also true – sort of – but not quite as ‘great’ is describing ‘it’ and not really owning it. I think ‘it’s’ is actually correct here.

  • Amy – I heard about that book somewhere. It sounded really interesting to me.

  • According to IMDB here’s what’s cast, and rumors for good measure, as of right now:

    Emma Stone as Skeeter
    Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly (rumored)
    Chris Lowell as Stuart (negotiating)
    Viola Davis as Aibileen (yes, Ms. Goldberg would have been my pick too)
    Octavia Spencer as Minny


  • Rechelle:

    GreeninOC – I don’t know any of those actresses. I am so, so, so stuck in the mid nineties.

  • Peggy in TN:

    I just finished this book a couple of weeks ago. I loved it so much that I couldn’t put it down–read the whole thing in one day (it was a terrible, rainy day the kind that is okay to sit and read). When I started the book I had a little trouble with the dialect and thought I wouldn’t be able to read a whole story written like that. I was relieved when she changed to Skeeter’s voice. After a while, I didn’t have a problem with the dialect.

    I think Scarlett Johanson would be good as Minny’s boss (I can’t remember her name. That’s the problem when you read too fast!) I don’t think Gwenyth deserves to be in any movies anymore with her “un-American-ness.
    Yuck, I am so turned off by her. Can’t think of anyone else to suggest. There doesn’t seem to be any great new actresses out lately.

  • Oh my goodness, I am reading this right. this. minute. (because my book group read it last month, I keep having to skip the meetings because I can’t seem to get the books read in time…) I can’t put it down. It is great!

    Meant to drop you a line and recommend “Romancing Miss Bronte” by Juliet Gael. Yes, she hated Jane Austen (Charlotte, that is, not Juliet) but we have to forgive her for that because people kept telling her to copy JA’s style. Under those circumstances I don’t think I would like Jane too much either. Thought of you when I read this quote by Miss Bronte: “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.”

  • You are trying to kill me with the it’s/its thing. Killing. Me.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Looks like a good one! Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Patricia:

    Well Anonymous, you REALLY, REALLY are the one to teach us !

  • Deb:

    The typo is in the title “it’s hype”. Boy, some peeps are picky…

    A friend told me about this book early in the year – before the hype. When I tried to get it from the library I was #300! on the list – I couldn’t believe it. I had to wait a bit for it, but it was worth it. I enjoyed it very much, although I agree with one commenter who said the dialect took some getting used to. Growing up in the North and not experiencing such things I was shocked at the segregation issues and fear. I was born in 1955 and kept “placing” myself in time in my own life as I read the book. I guess I was too young to be paying attention to the news etc. It did a good job of bringing the personal side to things I only saw in the news or in text books and I found myself rooting for the characters.

  • Vicki M.:

    Yeah! A book review. I’m going to read it soon! Thanks.

  • Deb – oooooooooooh! I see it now! Gwine to change it! Thanks.

  • Megan:

    I have it on my Kindle and am waiting to read it with my book club in a few months. I’m currently working my way through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.

  • dee:

    It’s on my “to read” list…not sure about a movie — I’m one of those who thinks the book is always better.

    Amy, I had never heard of this lady until today when I read about her on another blog. From what I read at the other blog, “murky” might be a generous description of the events.

  • Already read it, and yes, it will make a good movie.

  • Jeanie:

    I am so glad that I revisited your blog in the last week. Loved your recent gardening posts, your thoughtful viewpoints, and the book recommendation to add to my “must read” list.

  • Loved the “Looky”!

  • Rechelle,

    You might recognize these 3 now:

    Bryce Dallas Howard is Ron Howard’s daughter

    Chris Lowell played the young doctor that was recently killed off on Private Practice

    Viola Davis played the Mom to the African American student in Doubt for which she was nominated for an Oscar

    Not so sure about this cast…

    I really hope it’s not the equivalent to The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood – great book, would have been a wonderful movie but the writing and casting were subpar at best.

  • just a farm girl:

    Hmmmm good thing we are all different. I read the book last winter on recommendation from my sister. I thought there were flashes of brilliance but most of the time I thought the author was writing a book that she hoped would be a screen play. blaaaa It went too far most of the time and seemed contrived. Not sure I would even see the movie–its just too TOO. :)

  • I didn’t read this book, but listened to it on cd. It was fabulous on cd! The women who were the “voices” really stepped into character for this. I admit that the whole time I was listening I was thinking that this needed to be turned into a movie too. I hope it lives up to the book. Unfortunately, I’m not up on actresses either, so I have no suggestions for Hilly or Skeeter. Whoopi would be great for Abilene though.

  • Marilyn:

    Read it…loved it…recommended it to everyone I knew.

  • Sue D.:

    I totally recommend getting the book on tape……the reading of it is FANTASTIC……I couldn’t even imagine just reading it.

    Just so you know.

  • This book seems to be making the rounds on the blogosphere. I’ve put it on my reading list because everyone is raving. Seems the same here! Now I may have to check the library for the CDs.
    Thanks for another recommendation!

  • “Looky!” is spelled incorrectly.
    - a friend of “anonymous”

  • tess:

    OMG you people and your petty little quips about misspelled words and its and it’s – get a life already!!

  • Emily:

    I read this book about six months ago and loved, loved, loved it. I wasn’t crazy about the ending…I like book endings neatly tied up, preferably with a pretty bow. As much as I enjoyed the book in print, I don’t think I’d like it as a movie. I don’t like any good books as movies. I have Hilly, Minny, etc. in my head, and no matter what actresses were cast, they’d screw up MY versions, which are, obviously, perfect!

  • meme:

    Finished this book early Saturday morning. Thanks for recommending it.

  • Heidi:

    I just finished this book two days ago and have been dying to talk about it. I loved it – was so sad when I read the last sentence.

    I’ve been thinking of how the sequel would read and of course the movie.

    No movie of this type would be complete without Whoopi Goldberg. Sissy Spacek would be great as Skeeter’s mother. They acted together in a similar movie – “The Long Walk Home”

    Maybe Queen Latifah (sp?) as Minny? I love the idea of Iris Johannson as Minny’s boss (Celia?). Why not get Oprah back to the big screen too?

    I feel like I’m in a complete manic episode just disussing this book – I just loved it so much. So glad I found your post.

    Now I’m reading “Shanghai Girls.” So far it’s pretty good. Have you read it?

  • Linda C:

    I finished this book last night.
    Loved it.