Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Welcome to July's book club!  I'm a tricky little sucker having the July book club day on the last day of the month, aren't I?  That's how I roll!  (Really book club is on the last Wednesday of the month, but, you know...)

While I'm thinking about it, is there anyone out there who has read all five books for our book club so far?  If so, let me know!  I'll send you a cookie!  Or something.

And also while I'm thinking about it, goodreads came with their list of most abandoned books and why we stop reading them.  It's fascinating.

On to the book club!  Here's our schedule so far-

February:  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
March:  The Fault in our Stars by John Green
April:  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
May:  Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
June:  Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
July:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
August: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
September: Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
October:  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
November: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
December:  We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Today we will be discussing...

I love love love love this book.  I would list it on my top 3 books of books that I read in the past decade and my top ten books of all time.  It really is amazing.  Here's why:

PLOT:  The plot keeps you guessing and builds enough that you never lose interest.  I know a book is really good if I "sprint" at the finish line, meaning I'm around 100 pages away from finishing it and I just finish it all in one night because I just can't wait!  The first time I read The Help I stayed up until 4 am finishing it.  That very rarely happens for me- it takes a pretty killer plot and a steady, quick pace to manage that.

I tried for a long time to figure out how Stockett maintains such a perfect pace throughout the book, and I have concluded that she has just the right amount of things going on. She nails it on the sub plots and the sub sub plots. And the most beautiful thing is that everything ties in at the end, it's not just a bunch of random things happening to people, they all come together.  I love the suspense that comes around Skeeter trying to do the interviews for her book, the curiosity that comes from Celia and Minnie's situation, the nervousness I feel for all the maids helping out on the book, the excitement I feel for Skeeter's first real boyfriend, the disgust I feel for Hilly and Elizabeth, the heartache I feel for Skeeter's mom...

Sidenote:  The first time I read this book I was furious that Skeeter didn't end up with Stuart.  Why couldn't Skeeter have been happy with her man?   I was single at the time and that may have had something to do with my intense desire for her to end up with someone. Re-reading the book I was surprised by how glad I was that Skeeter didn't end up with Stuart.  How much stronger I felt she was without him, how proud I was that she stood up for what was important to her, that she didn't give up her dreams and settle for some man who wasn't a good fit at all.

VOICE:  I feel like I could read this book every couple of years and be totally entertained.  The reason why is because Stockett uses such incredible voice with her characters.  They come to life, you feel like you know the characters, it's like meeting up with an old friend.  I love that the book is told from three different perspectives, and each character has her own unique voice.  My favorite character is Minnie, just because she's such a tough cookie and little spitfire.  She says things like "She's wearing a tight red sweater and a red skirt and enough makeup to scare a hooker," and  "Even though she has zero kids and nothing to do all day, she is the laziest woman I've ever seen.  Including my sister Doreena who never lifted a royal finger growing up because she had the heart defect that we later found out was a fly on the X-ray machine."  I rarely laugh out loud with a book, but these two lines had be giggling in bed.  No movie can duplicate that powerful voice in writing.

CHARACTERS:  The characters are strong, but not too strong.  You know?  Skeeter is smart and brave, but she says the wrong thing all the time and she's tall and ugly.  Minnie is loyal and tenacious, but she's sassy and runs her mouth too much.  Even the "villians" have redeeming qualities, which I loved.  I hate it when the antagonist is all bad, it makes for such a weak and flat character.  Hilly, easily the most hated character in the book, absolutely adores her children and was Skeeter's only friend in high school.  This is something I didn't appreciate from the movie version- they made the good guys too good and the bad guys too bad.  The truth is we all have bad and good in us, it's just what we choose to act on the most that makes us who we are.  I guess I just like my characters a little more complex and a little more rounded and Stockett definitely delivers on that.

EMOTIONAL POWER/ OVERALL MESSAGE:  It has been interesting to read this book as the Treyvon Martin case has been going on.  This line struck me hard when I was reading:  "There is so much you don't know about a person.  Wasn't that the point of the book [that Skeeter writes]?  For women to realize, We are just two people.  Not that much separates us.  Not nearly as much as I'd thought."  I feel like that's the overall message of the book and that's why it is told from the viewpoint of three very different women.  They are different in terms of wealth, race, opportunity, family, attitude, but the point is by the end of the book you realize they're not that different at all.

The other scene from the book that left me in tears is the scene after Johnny and Celia find out that Celia won't ever be able to carry a baby.  Minnie, six months pregnant with a bunch of kids already at home, comes in the kitchen and sees her white bosses crying.  Johnny thanks her for "saving Celia's life" and then Minnie states,  "So I lean my hand on the sideboard because the baby's getting heavy on me.  And I wonder how it is that I have so much when she doesn't have any.  He's crying.  She's crying.  We are three fools in the dining room crying."  It's the first time we really see Minnie's vulnerabilities and we realize how much she loves Celia, in spite of how she tries not to, in spite of the different colors of their skin.  That scene is so beautiful- a white couple and a black woman sitting down at the table and crying together over shared heartache.

ON THE MOVIE V. BOOK I have a friend who every time I suggest a book to him he says, "Oh, I already saw that movie."  It drives me crazy that people will see a movie and then never read the book upon which it was based.  Now, I'll be the first to admit that the film adaptation for The Help is terrific- I loved the movie.  But still.  It left out so much in the book. It is impossible for a movie to fully capture the beauty of the text. The voice, the pulse, the writing.  I never know if I am happy that my favorite book is being made into a movie- on one end I'm happy that more people will be familiar with the story, but on the other end I'm sad that those people will now never push themselves to read the story in its complete beauty.  I suppose this is my urging to you... if you have seen this movie but never read the book, it is worth it still to read the book. It is one of the best books written in the past decade, and you will fall completely in love with the story and the characters..

I promise.

Now.  Link up your review!  And you can leave a comment if you've seen the movie but not read the book, I won't mind :)


  1. I totally agree- I saw the movie first but still think it is worth reading the book- you are missing out if you don't!

  2. I always get excited about seeing one of my favorite books come to life in a movie...but it is never as wonderful as the book. I LOVED The Help and the movie, but the book was of course my favorite.

  3. I read the book a couple years ago and thought it was great. I'm going to read Life of Pi for next month!

  4. I loved this book. I haven't watched the movie yet but it's on my list!

  5. I thought the movie represented the book pretty well, but like most movies from books, it did leave out a ton. I loved the book, I couldn't put it down. It was much deeper than I expected.

  6. I have read all the books so far! I like sticking with a book club because it encourages me to read books that I wouldn't necessarily choose myself (though this one in particular was already on my "To Read" list!).

  7. The Help is one of my absolute favorite books ever. It is also the first one I read with my mom. I did a small review on it more than a year ago for a young adult literature class I took.
    Our Fairy Tale

  8. I am sorry to say that not like that book very much. I mean, I finished it, which is saying something because I never finish books I'm not interested in, but I just waited for it to pick up and I felt like it never did. It was a very thoughtful book though. I definitely thought about the novel for a while after I finished it.

    I haven't done a book club with you yet, but I think I'd like to read Life of Pi with you next month. I LOVED the movie. I was blown away by the beautiful CGI, but mostly for the religious symbols that it held. I am so excited to read the book with you. :)

  9. I read the book a few years ago and absolutely loved it, couldn't put it down! I just finally saw the movie a few weeks was also very good, but I always seem to think the book is the better version in these cases.

  10. Really glad I found your book club! I've read 4 out of the 6 at different times. I'll try to write up a short review of The Help and post tomorrow :)

    funny, that I just started reading Life of Pi, your next pick!