Yesterday I finished reading a book I feel like I've been on the waiting list for at the library forever, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The story is amazingly compelling, and I wanted to do nothing but read it until I'd gotten all the way through.
Racial issues are always complicated. If anything, Stockett does a wonderful job of showing how many black maids were stuck between a rock and a hard place as domestic workers in the South in the early to mid-20th century. Since I wasn't born until the late 1970s, I really have no personal experience that can be applied here, except I examined such relationships and social issues and norms in the writing of my thesis a few years ago. After interviewing family members who'd had domestic workers, and even a domestic worker who was once employed by someone in my family, I was convinced that the issues were even more complicated than I'd even imagined. I still stand by that it's a sticky situation after reading The Help.
People all over the country are reading the book, and it's been reviewed in who knows how many publications. It will probably be one of the most popular books of 2009-2010. The critics have weighed in on this book from previously unknown Stockett. Read the reviews for yourself, and for heaven's sake, read The Help.
New York Times
California Literary Review
The Book Lady's Blog