Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: The Help (audio book)

Author: Kathryn Stockett
Narrators: Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell
Publish date: 2009
Source: Library
"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.

I will forever bow down to this book from now on because it has completely changed my mind about audio books. I LOVE THEM NOW. I wasn't sure if I could do fiction without seeing the words, but April from Good Books & Good Wine recommended this one, so I gave it a try and I loved it! Now I can't wait to listen to more!

The best part about this audio book for me was the different narrators. It offers variety while listening, yes, but also offers such a distinct voice for each of the three narrators, Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. After one chapter from each narrator, I was instantly hooked and associating that character to that voice. I was so used to listening to the book that I even started thinking in a southern accent (yeah, I am from Michigan and have a flat accent). Thankfully those stayed thoughts and didn't escape.

In regards to the book itself, I found it to be interesting and very readable. I kept trying to think of chores or tasks to do that didn't require concentration so I could listen to more and find out what was going to happen. All of the main characters were really likable and it was so easy to HATE some of Skeeter's "friends" like Hilly and Elizabeth. Sad to think that people were/are actually like them.

I was happy to confirm that this book was not a "white person solves racism" kind of story, but still ended on a hopeful note. It's easy to understand why The Help is so popular: it's enjoyable and covers an important part of history/life, albeit employing fairly stereotypical characters. I'm glad I finally read it and wholeheartedly recommend it as an audio book!

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