Are you one of those people who run out and buy a book because Oprah liked it or it’s on somebody’s best-seller list or you want to be the first among your friends to read it? Or are you someone who dislikes hype, is busy reading four other books, and waited years before picking up Harry Potter number one?
Reading habits often put me in the latter group. Kathryn Stockett’s The Help (Penguin Books, 2009) was given to me several years ago, and it languished on the shelf long after the movie left theaters and even regular appearances on cable ended. A couple of weeks ago I wanted something “lighter” to read and picked it up. “This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird …” said its yellow and purple cover. “Yeah, right.”
Suddenly I was in 1960’s Mississippi with new and complex points of view. What was it like to be an angry black woman, a quiet, thoughtful black woman, a black woman who raises and loves the boss’ white children? What is to evolve into someone who understands in contrast with someone who never will?
Once I finally picked it up, I never put it down. It may not be on the same literary level as To Kill a Mockingbird, but its message is strong and vital to a society that must live together in order to survive.
Things may be better for black people living in this country today, but they are far from equal. Equal rights for all are there on paper, but until anyone can go anywhere, be married to the person of their choice, or are paid equally for equal work - or are paid enough period, inequality will be a way of life. There will always be those who do the work versus those who take the credit, and those who are afraid they’ll catch something if they get too close. The Help goes a long way in taking down the walls - but I can’t help but wonder: Will it ever be enough?
Please take a moment and comment on this article. Click on subscribe to receive an e-mail when Alison publishes new articles. Alison is also National Social Issues Examiner, National Community Issues Examiner, Salt Lake City Political Buzz Examiner and Salt Lake City Comfort Food Examiner. For a link to all of Alison‘s articles about books, please click here. Thank you.