Monday, June 4, 2012

Sunday Brunch: The Help

Wow, so many people really dislike The Help because it was written by a little white gal in stereotypical black vernacular while none of the white girls spoke in typical southern vernacular. They accuse her of trying to write the next great southern novel of racism, and failing miserably.

Just set all that aside, I think. This is a novel from a white girl, raised in a certain way in the south, left with some unresolved feelings about that childhood, which she chose to explore through fiction. It's just that and nothing more, but engaging and pretty good for all that. No, the dialog isn't perfect. The black women talk like she remembers black women talking and - surprise! - the white women don't have accents because the author talks like that (or at least, once did) and everyone knows that *we all* don't have an accent but *ya'll* do.

Also, I didn't get the impression that the book (or even the movie) was all about "the white woman saves the day again." Skeeter faded out of importance very quickly for me, other than an occasional reminder that she was the one typing up the manuscript. The real story was about Aibileen and Minnie - their lives and the real danger they were in for sharing their stories. Skeeter might have gotten the ball rolling, but she wouldn't have had a story at all if not for Aibileen. Skeeter was just there as a way to connect the real author and the novel with white readers. Did you ever see this many white women running around carrying The Color Purple and forcing all of their friends to read it?

I enjoyed this book immensely. It kept me up late at night, it transported me to another place and time, and made me care about the people there. It did what it was supposed to do - provided an escape - what more can you ask of popular fiction?

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