Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best Book of the Year--The Help

After a year's worth of reading, my vote for the best book of 2009 is Katherine Stockett's The Help (see August 19, 2009 ). I've continued to ponder the book's messages, most notably that you never can be certain what another person is thinking, even if she is from your very own neighborhood. Talking with other readers about The Help has kept the joy of reading this book alive and well. Some older women have said to me that the book doesn't accurately portray the help/hirer relationship from that era--that these bonds were much more trusting and reciprocal than portrayed in the novel. Others have echoed this sentiment by taking the opposite position: The Help does indeed authentically demonstrate the early 60's friendships between maid and Mrs. It shows the very best case scenarios to the very worst. No one yet has come forth to volunteer a worst case scenario from her own past. Maybe such a story would be TMI in this day and age, almost impossible to discuss in a setting of tact. And that's why we read books, actually, to view our own lives through their gentle refraction, to discuss plot and character, when deep down we're really talking about ourselves.

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