I’ve been in a blogging rut lately, not so much along the lines of “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, think I’ll go eat worms”; more “I know nothing, everyone else knows everything, I may as well just not write.”
It started with a Grudem book (more on this later in the week) but reached its pinnacle after I finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett last week. Before I talk about the book, though, rewind with me to around a week and a half ago, just a few days before my friend lent it to me: I’d started reading a negative review of The Help but gave up after being warned that the post contained spoilers. “I may want to read this someday,” I’d thought to myself, little knowing that day would be Sunday. And then Monday. And Tuesday morning.
So I read the book. And I loved the book. It’s the closest to literally unputdownable that I’ve read in a long, long time; my husband had to forbid me from continuing to read it on the Monday night or else I wouldn’t have slept (he’s so mean). I thought the writing was brilliant – I was entirely swept up by Stockett’s storytelling and dying to know how the book would end. And though the ending wasn’t completely satisfying, I floated around for the next few days on a rare great-novel-high.
Of course, I then had to go back to the review I’d originally seen to find out what negative things could possibly be said about it, and that’s about the time that I realised that I know absolutely nothing. NUSSINK! If you haven’t read the book, stop here and return to the end of this post once you’re done (if you want to) - that includes you, Miss Sophie-Lee! I want you to have the pleasure of reading the book untarnished by the following... See you soon (and ENJOY)!
Mmmkay. So the review (as well as the comments and the links from this review) rightly point out the racial stereotypes that are perpetuated by this book: It’s yet another white-person-rescues-black-person story; yet another story written about black people by a white person (both the author Kathryn Stockett, and also Skeeter in the book); yet another story where the white people benefit (Skeeter escapes; Stockett becomes rich and famous) and the black people... well, who knows what’ll happen to them? And it’s yet another story where the black people are the help, not the heroes. I appreciated reading this post and also this statement for an African American perspective on the book and film.
I hate that I notice gender stereotypes because I’m female, but race stereotypes easily pass me by because I’m white; that just reeks of self-centredness, and it sucks to rediscover how self-centred I am. At one point in all of this I even tried to convince myself that the black/white issue was bigger in America than it is here, though it wasn’t long before I remembered some of the shocking statistics I learned at uni, such as the average life span of an Indigenous Australian compared to a non-Indigenous (17 years less), and sunk back down into my rut. I hadn’t even considered the fact that we see more African Americans than Indigenous Australians on our television and cinema screens - and that's saying a LOT - until I read the articles I've linked to above.
Now I just feel conflicted about this book. I have no idea how I would rate it if asked, having responded to it twice: Once from a naïve first impression and once from an only-slightly-more-informed second one. I'm not even sure how to end this post...
P.S. It seems there’s a middle ground, which is somewhat comforting.
P.P.S. Sorry about all of the links! If you only want to click on one, read the statement.
P.P.P.S. The stop sign’s from here.
P.P.P.P.S. ...I forget.