Totally recommend! I definitely wouldn’t place it in the realm of the classics in terms of literature, but it is definitely a book worth adding to your Must Read book list (this, of course, is off the assumption you have such a list. I strongly believe everyone should …).
Initially, when I was handed this book to read by a close colleague, I was skeptical. A white (blonde, no less!) lady writing about the House Negro! From the perspective of the House Negro! I was drawn and repelled at the same time. And all my lessons in Africana Studies came rushing back to me at once. Who is allowed to write about the African-American experience? And to take that question a step further, who is allowed to write about the African-American experience from the perspective of the minority? Who gets to claim expertise on a subject that historically did not affect your race, gender, religion, etc?
I was quickly reminded of my first ever class in Africana Studies at the U¹. That lovely morning, I was tingling with anticipation! I was going to get unlearned about Black people! And in walks this short, pudgy white man in glasses. You see the blatant confusion on the students’ faces and the air in the classroom became tense. WTF! A white man! Teaching African-American studies! To a class full of minority students! Excuse me, we were not just minority students, we were all pretty much black, save three students, who were white. And the lesson began and the class was clearly not going to be a walk over. Whether Mr. Andrews (to whom I owe an email now that I think about it) over-compensated for his lack of blackness by being a strict teacher or whether he was naturally a teacher who wasn’t going to accept students walking into his class unprepared to be taught, is a different entirely. Mr. Andrews made a lasting impression on me for who gets to talk about an experience to which his people were to the ‘bad guys’.
And here I was, The Help in hand, staring at the face of a beautiful white woman with long, flowy blonde hair, wondering, basically, who the hell does she think she is!! But I gave the book a chance and I was pleasantly delighted. It was especially interesting that the author wrote the chapters in first person from the angle of three different women. Was that a spoiler? My bad!
Have you added this book to your reading list yet?
Also, before I end this post, while I was yet in the throws of completing the book, I stumbled upon a news piece on a law suit Stockett might be poised to face. Apparently, her childhood maid was suing her for wrongfully using her life and experience to write the book. Well now, well now! (Read about it here.)
¹ University of Miami, fondly called ‘The U’