The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is an incredible book- one of my absolute favorites. It tells the stories about women we never think of…the maids who worked for white families in the 1960s…the black people who lived in constant fear in the south. I think the book does an amazing job of telling their stories.

The movie, The Help, just came out in theaters. I was apprehensive to see it because I didn’t think it could do the book any sort of justice. I went and saw the movie with my mom and sister and I thought it was spectacularly done. I won’t say it was better than the book but seeing it made it much more real in many ways. The actors were incredibly cast, almost all of them were just what I imagined. While watching, I alternated between laughing and crying. It was so well done…and it’s a movie that certainly makes you think about what you saw for a long time after.

I think movies and books like The Help are so important. They remind us of America’s dark past and how far we’ve come. But I think it also teaches us never to allow ourselves to grow complacent at the injustice and inequality we see around us. We’ve come a far way as a nation but there is still racism here. Living in the south I am continuously shocked at the prejudice I see here…towards black people, Hispanics, Middle Eastern People, homosexuals, atheists…and the list goes on.

We’ve come a far way. But that’s not an excuse to stop working and pushing towards equality for everyone…we must always remember the people who were forced to fight for their rights. Characters like Minny and Aibileen and Skeeter in The Help encourage us to never be complacent and to have courage to do what is right.

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What I’m Reading

I’ve gotten to do quite a bit of reading this summer which is great! I absolutely love reading and I’m getting as much as I can in now because I never have much time to read during the school year. I’ve read some really great books lately so I thought I’d share!

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Stieg Larson. I thought they were pretty incredible! I had seen the movies before I read the books (something that I never ever do but I wasn’t planning on reading the books) but the movies really intrigued me so I decided to read them after all. I’d heard such mixed reviews about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Some people absolutely love it and others have a really hard time getting into it. The first half of the book is difficult to get through- there is a lot of political/economic/financial jargon that’s rather uninteresting. What Stieg Larson does really well is paint really vivid characters and as you read on in his first book, you start meeting those characters and it becomes a lot more interesting. I think it actually helped me that I’d seen the movies first because I was able to get through the more tedious parts of the books without much trouble. Larson is definitely a good writer but he has a very meticulous style- he will often take up several pages explaining some complicated political something or other when really a paragraph would have sufficed. However, the story line of these books is very captivating. The series is very dark, dealing with issues such as rape, sexual violence, murder, etc. It’s always hard to read books that deal with such difficult topics but I find that I never regret having read them. The books are very graphic, however, so if you are bothered by that I would be careful before reading them. There were parts that I could hardly read. So what is the story line? Well the first book is slightly different from the second and third. The main characters are journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who in the beginning of the book is charged with libel, and Lisbeth Salander, a troubled computer hacker. The two team up to solve the murder of Harriet Vanger, a murder which has gone unsolved for 40 years. The second and third books (The Girl who Played with Fire and then The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) focus almost completely on Lisbeth and her dark past. I enjoyed the last two books more than the first. I was reading them in Maine and after I finished the second book, I immediately bought the third on Amazon so I could read it on my Kindle- and then I didn’t put it down for the day and a half it took me to finish it. I got so sucked in to the story! So I would definitely recommend these books and the movies (don’t even get me started on the fact that Hollywood is re-making the Swedish movies…blah!). Get ready for a really interesting, dark, and exciting read.

  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors- she’s also written the Poisonwood Bible which is one of my all time favorite books. The Bean Trees was another great book. Here’s the description from Amazon: “This debut novel follows the gritty, outspoken Taylor Greer, who leaves her native Kentucky to head west. She becomes mother to an abandoned baby and, when her jalopy dies in Tucson, is forced to work in a tire garage and to room with a young, battered divorcee who also has a little girl. With sisterly counsel and personal honesty, the two face their painful lot. The blue-collar setting, described vibrantly, often turns violent, with baby beatings, street brawls, and drug busts. Despite the hurt and rage, themes of love and nurturing emerge.” It may not sound very interesting, I didn’t think it did, but it was a really sweet book. I really fell in love with the characters. I would definitely recommend it!

  • I’ve also read some chick flicks lately…hem hem. Sometimes you just need a break from serious books! I read Certain Girls and In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner. Certain Girls is told from two perspectives, a mother and her soon-to-be teenage daughter. While reading it I was yelling “Can a teenager really be so irritating!?” and “What kind of mother is this!? She’s crazy!!” haha so I guess it’s good that it illicits strong feelings! In Her Shoes was told from the point of views of Maggie and Rose, two sisters, and their grandma, Ella. Sometimes it was pretty slow going but overall I enjoyed it. After reading these two, I read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. This book was kinda irritating. It was about a lawyer (do all chick flicks star dissatisfied lawyers? It would appear so) and her love affair basically. The main guy in the book irritated me and it really just gets frustrating reading books where people are constantly cheating on each other. But I did finish the book! It’s not like it was awful or anything, I would recommend any of these 3 if you just want to read a mindless chick flick, but it certainly didn’t impress me.

So those are the books I’ve read lately!