I know, I am late to the party and most people must have already read the book. But the rebel in me, kept me away for this long. God forbid, I like the book and then have to join the bandwagon. Sigh, the troubles of a non-conformist. I am trying to change those ways, but that is a different story.
For now back to The Help, a book about, well, the help and their lives. It is the story of the maids in Jackson, Mississippi from their point of view, the good and the bad. And oh! There is bad, but no story is one-dimensional and thank god there are enough nice white people out in those pages.
The feature that stands out in this book are the characters. All of them are multi-faceted, full characters; the antagonists also have their own troubles and stories. You understand, it wasn’t easy for the whites to be openly liberal and nice; there was just too much peer pressure, their social lives were at stake. I actually felt bad for Miss Hilly the main ‘bitch’, antagonist or villain just didn’t seem right in her context, towards the end of the book and that in itself is a triumph. The coloured characters as they have been called in the book, leapt out of the pages with their smart conversations, troubles at home and at work or in the neighbourhood, their unity, friendship, love and loyalty towards the kids they looked after.
This book taught me that there are no good and bad people, everyone is stuck in a cage of their own making and that is pitiful. While some characters had the courage to break that cage and see the bigger picture, some didn’t, that’s life, it doesn’t make them the worst people to walk this earth.
It taught me as a writer, that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and a book can focus on all of it. Well-rounded, beautiful, staying back with the reader kind of characters are written like this.
It also taught me that little kids do not see separation, segregation and bias. They love you, if you love them and that’s that. Doesn’t matter who you are, and I wish to retain that quality, love simply because I can.
And the most touching thing it taught me was, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important.” Each of us is and we must spread this message amongst each other and the young people we interact with, it would save us a whole lot of damage and heartbreak, because it is the truest sentence I have read in a very long time.
So, get on it, buy the book, borrow it from the library, read it. And then watch the film too. It’s as awesome.