The Help by Kathryn Stockett

         “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.Cover of "The Help"
         …….Seemingly as different from one another as can be, three 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.
          In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women-mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends-view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope. The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.”
My Review:
            The book depicts how cruel and unaccepting society was; and if you look around, still is. White folks hired the black people to help to raise their children, to love and rock them, to bandage their scrapes, to bathe them and feed them. Society hired the black nannies to nurture their children without a second thought; but, when it came to allowing the black help to use their bathrooms, they became paranoid of “catching germs”.
            I loved the courage of the young woman when she decided to tell the stories of the black help. You cannot help but feel admiration for the black women as they struggled through adversity to come forth and share their stories. This book is fiction, but it is non-fiction at the same time.
            The characters in the novel come from the real world. For anyone wishing to know what life was like (and still is to an extent) in the 1960s in the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, this is a wonderful read. It immerses you in the culture of the time and allows you to feel what each woman was experiencing.
            The characters are wonderful. There is Constantine, who raised the “author” from the time she was born. There is Aibileen, a “wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child.” You meet Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, who is full of sass and can cook like nobody’s mama, as we say in the South. Her biggest downfall is not being able to keep her sassy mouth shut.
            You are introduced to the white society woman who employed black help. We have all met these woman, heck; we might even be one of them. And, then there is the poor white trash that marries well and desperately tries to fit in to a tight handpicked society. Pick up this book and live through history; you will not be able to put it down. You will laugh, and you will cry, and you will laugh until you cry. Join the ladies on a journey where they break the rules of society and cross line that were never meant to be crossed. My teaser on this one: watch out for the chocolate cake!
            I was able to identify with this book on many levels and even recognized a few of the “society” women as some from my own life. I have witnessed many prejudices in today’s society that helps this book transcend time. “The Help” is debuting as a movie; and, I for one cannot wait. I hope the movie does the book justice. I definitely recommend this book.
            You can purchase this book using the Amazon link below. I would love to hear if you have already read it or plan to. Happy Reading!

The Help by K…

Everyday life on the Bayou

          This blog is not only for book reviewing but for telling stories about the goings on in my life. This past week had a lot of activity. My daughter, Katie-Beth, was in from New York where she is a teacher. She was showing me the website she is setting up and I’ll be sharing it as soon as she finishes critiquing it.  While she was down, two alligators were caught off of our wharf on Bayou Lafourche; one was 5’2″ and the other was 7’8″. Other than the photo of she and my husband fishing one of them out of the water, I didn’t think to take any others. It is such a common site that I forget not everyone has this experience. I’ll be sure and take more pictures next time – yes, there is always a next time.

This alligator was 5’2″ – Katie’s height.

           We have not had rain for well over a month and yesterday, we had several downpours. It was Calypso’s first experience in the rain and I am certain she enjoyed herself. I could not get her to come on the porch. She and Ryka never stopped playing. They did at one point come to the front door with those sad little puppy faces that seemed to be saying they were ready to come in. At that point, I wasn’t sympathetic. 

Yep. Play in the rain. Stay in the rain.

            Jeffery caught some of the first crabs of the season. The crabs from the bayou have a much sweeter flavor (and in my opinion, a better flavor) than the crabs caught closer to the gulf. There have been as many as thirty in the cage at a time. Today, there was one.

Better luck next time.

            This is a common occurrence in my yard. Calypso antagonizes Ryka until there is wrestling. I took a series of shots the other day (but won’t bore you with them) of them just rolling around wrestling. Somewhere in this picture, there are two dogs.

Sumo wrestling.

"The Middle Place"

  Not long ago I posted that I was going to start reviewing the books I read on my blog. This is my first book review. The book, “The Middle Place” by Kelly Corrigan.

Cover of "The Middle Place"

             “At 36, Kelly Corrigan had a marriage that worked, two funny, active kids, and a weekly newspaper column. Even then, she still saw herself as the daughter of a garrulous Irish-American charmer, George Corrigan. She was living deep within what she calls the Middle Place – ‘that sliver of time when parenthood and children overlap’ – comfortable wedged between her adult duties and her parents’ care. But when Kelly finds a lump in her breast – and gets the diagnosis that no one wants to hear – and when her beloved father, too, learns that he has late-stage cancer, Kelly finally takes the leap and grows up. And through her bravely honest, funny, and inspirational memoir, she takes us with her.”

            Once I began this book, I couldn’t put it down; the pages seem to turn themselves. Kelly’s relationship with her father and the closeness they share is unmatched by any story I have yet to read; it is how she describes her very existence. Kelly Corrigan seamlessly weaves the past and present as the story of her perfect life begins to unravel around her. She is diagnosed with cancer and the diagnosis of her father’s cancer soon follows.
            She writes of the difficulties that follow. She takes us through her chemotherapy and the family vacations. She writes of the first time she ventures out after chemo to take her daughters to school and a little boy confront her claiming she looks like a monster, and her subsequent freak-out. Then, leaving the girls for her friend to drop off at school, she hurries home to call her husband in tears, to which she relays the following conversation.
            “He called me a monster,” I say, crying and falling into the sofa.
            “Who did?”
            “Jack Lindgren.”
            “That little fucker!” (Her thoughts: I don’t know what to say about a man who calls a perfectly adorable three-year-old a fucker, but “my hero” comes to mind.)

            She takes us on vacation where her baby goes missing and only after a frantic search, is found sound asleep in a little make-shift tent.
            While trying to manage her father’s illness from across the country, she is busy battling her own war against cancer. She writes with soul, with compassion, and with humor.
            I finished this book with an understanding of the journey she calls life that both begins and ends where she is and always will be the daughter of her beloved father, George Corrigan.

For anyone who enjoys reading memoirs, this book should definitely make your short list. I would enjoy hearing from you if you have already read this book or if you read it after my review. What are your thoughts? 

If you would like to purchase the book through Amazon, you may do so by clicking on the Amazon box on the left side of my blog.

Until then – Happy Reading!

The (whispering here) vagina Monologues

Last night I attended a performance of the Vagina Monologues at the local university (at this point I am sure that anyone who knows me is sitting there with their mouth hanging open saying “She did what? Can’t be!”)

This play could be described as word stimulating. Oh! And, definitely sound stimulating! I am laughing as I write this. It will take me a while to process the whole experience. I was caught waaaaaaaaaaay off guard. I truly did not know what to expect (Hello, Lucy – anybody home?)

I went with a very good friend of mine, Jessica, and we laughed until we cried during some parts of the monologue. Others, we looked at each other with stunned faces thinking “did we really just hear that?” We were a little out of our comfort zone. Well, we were a lot out of our comfort zone; I will admit that sometimes that’s a good thing.

There were words spoken that most might consider vulgar, and sounds that put the scene in “Harry met Sally” to shame. There was serious dialogue and there was humorous dialogue. Each part seemed written for the young woman that performed it, so good were they during their monologues.

I admire the courage that each of these young woman displayed in getting up on stage to recite their words and act out their given scenes.

On the drive home, Jessica and I laughed at ourselves. We kept remembering different dialogue and we practiced our newfound vocabulary, words that will probably never leave our mouths again in this lifetime. For just a while, we were empowered women. We never knew that our “girl parts” had so many different names! The next time that Jessica’s young daughter asks her mother the name of her “girl parts”; she will have a list from which to choose.

My one constant dilemma was how I was going to explain this play to my husband. There is no explaining this play. You really just have to see it. It is definitely one of those “you have to be there” types of plays. So, after lighting a blessed candle, gathering a crucifix, and blessing myself with holy water, I sat down to try to explain the Vagina Monologues to my husband. It didn’t go so well (says me rolling on the floor laughing!)

If you have the opportunity to attend the Vagina Monologues, I highly recommend doing so. You may view your vagina (did I just say that?) in a completely new light – and just possibly with a mirror!