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Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I cried when reading "The Help"

I can't remember the last time a book made me cry.

Last Friday, I was reading The Help on my Kindle Fire on the Volvo bus to work. I had been doing this for the better part of a week. And I was on the last couple of chapters.

Reading this tale of the segregation era in America — when "coloured" people were considered "separate but equal" and treated, especially in the South, worse than animals — had already had a big emotional impact on me.

And I had also been struck by the originality of the writing. Kathryn Stockett tells us the story in three distinctive voices: there is Aibileen, a "coloured" maid; Minny, her best friend and fellow maid; and Skeeter, a young — white — woman who has a worldview different from that of her peers.

KATHRYN STOCKETT
On Friday, in the bus that morning, I came to a particularly moving passage.

And the floodgates just opened up.

I was not shedding tears of sadness, though; rather, my eyes welled up because I had become so involved in the book that I was able to share the characters' moment of triumph at that point in the story. It felt so real to me.

At the end of this exceptional and uplifting tale (the movie version is a hit, too), I could not help thinking to myself again: This is Kathryn Stockett's debut novel? What will she do for an encore?

UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: A STILL FROM THE MOVIE VERSION, AND, RIGHT, OCTAVIA SPENCER ACCEPTING HER OSCAR FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN L.A. YESTERDAY.