“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Help

In preparation for the long drive from Arizona to Chicago I purchased three books for my iPod. The first five hours of the drive I listened to CD's. And for several hours on Saturday I listened to NPR from Stillwater, OK. But before and after that I listened to only one of the books: The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

I found this book deeply engaging from start to finish. The three narrators were fabulous and held me in rapt attention. In fact, as I grew weary from driving, or when I really had to pay attention to directions, I turned the iPod off fearing I'd be too engrossed in the book and miss an important turn.

The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963-1964. Three women play primary roles, two maids and a young woman who aspires to be writer. Through a variety of circumstances the young woman ends up interviewing women who are maids, the Help, telling for the first time their story of submission, abuse, and love. The story weaves through the assassination of JFK, the rising influence of Martin Luther King, Jr. Rosa Parks, and the young people at the lunch counter in Woolworth's. Stories of my childhood. I was so engrossed in the book I looked forward to getting in the car each day and hearing more of the story. I dreamt about it at night. I had to be attentive to my speech, lest I start talking in the Mississippi dialect or using phrases from the book, phrases clearly from the south...In other words the book was living in me.

If you are looking for a great book to read, or better yet to listen too while knitting or driving, I highly recommend this one.