After one has work time, kids time, housekeeping time, husband time, and required-sleep-to-avoid-becoming-homicidal time covered, there is only so much left in a day. Thus, I usually end up choosing between reading or writing during my precious solo free time (sure, I do indulge in TV time, but that is part of my downtime with Hubby).
This week, I did much more reading than writing, even though I had done some trash talking on the Inkers' group email early in the week about how I will retain the Inker o' the week title indefinitely. My rationale was, reading a lot is an important part of becoming a good writer, not to mention, the book in question was due back to the library over a week ago.
What I have been reading is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I have not quite finished it, but decided to go ahead and write about it today. Here is a plot summary from bookbrowse.com:
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
This is a really good story. I especially love the characters and dialogue. There is enough intrigue to keep the pages turning. I'm excited to finish it tonight because I feel like I know these women personally, and I'm rooting for them. Each of the three main characters alternates telling the story in first person every three chapters or so, which makes you really get a good feel for the characters because you are not only in their heads, but also see them from the point of view of the other two.
My criticisms would be, at times through the middle it dragged a bit and I felt like some of it could have been cut to pick up the pace. Also, the author makes several references to To Kill a Mockingbird, which annoyed me because it is one of my favorite books of all time and I thought she might be trying too hard to make people view this work as a peer of that classic.
Another thing that I found interesting is a large part of the plot revolves around the women collaborating on a book and trying to get it published, which of course is something close to my heart.
Overall, I would highly recommend it for its emotional impact and great characters. As I've been reading it, I could see how it would translate well into film, and in fact there is a film version coming out next spring.