Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Help

The HelpThe Help – Kathryn Stockett
Evan’s ESS = 8 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = 8 out of 10
Content = (Adult Content, Language, Violence, Racism, Flavorful Pies)
Review inspired by the Books to Movies Challenge

Why: The editorial board here at Two Bibliomaniacs is rather scrupulous when it comes to including spoilers in our reviews.  Most of the time we try to avoid their wrath at all costs, but this week we threw caution into the wind and decided to walk a very fine line.  Unfortunately, we threw it upwind and all that caution blew right back into our face...  Now, we didn’t include any major spoilers, but we DO need to talk about the ending of the novel to fully express our feelings.  All’s were sayin is if you haven’t read The Help, it might be a good idea to peruse this review with one eye slightly closed...

Encouraged to write something meaningful, aspiring writer, Skeeter Phelan, decides to tackle one of the most turbulent issues imaginable in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi.  With the help and leadership of Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, two African American housemaids, the trio sets out to capture the oppressed voices of the town’s “help”.  Having the project published could risk the lives of everyone involved, but remaining silent is an option they were no longer willing to accept.    

The book.  Where to begin?  The Help was presented to us with a whole bunch of hype and in general we believe the book delivered.  From the beginning we were drawn into the story, the characters, and the city of Jackson.  The novel delivered a powerful perspective on an appalling piece of US history.  We fell in love with Aibileen, Skeeter, and Minny just as much as we loved to loath Hilly Holbrook and the rest of her minions.  The different narratives added an element of suspense, although we weren’t thrilled about the brief jump to third person in the middle of the story.  On several occasions we found ourselves up late into the night trying to figure out if Johnny was going to catch Celia and Minny or if the repercussions from the toilet incident would be dire.  Which brings us right up to the end...

We didn’t love the conclusion.  We wanted more.  Now, let’s get something straight – we’re not the kind of readers that need a super happy ending with sugar on top, where the bad guys die a horrible death or suffer public humiliation while the good guys win the lottery and find true love’s kiss.  In the case of The Help, we wanted more reflection.  Despite our wish for a certain character whose name rhymes with Billy to suffer more, we were okay with how everything turned out.  Given the racial tensions of the time, what these three ladies were doing could have resulted in a horrible tragedy.  Yet, at the end of the book, it just....ended.  After such a heroic undertaking, we wanted more of a clean-up job.

The Movie:  Honestly, there’s very little to say.  The movie was everything that the book was, only with a much more satisfying ending.  The set, the cast, and the script were all amazing and it was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations we’ve seen, maybe ever.  Our overall experience was so positive that we won’t even bother pointing out some of the small inconsistencies.  The character of Constantine was incredibly touching as well as the end scene with Minny and Mr. and Mrs. Foote.  Tears were streamed down the face of at least two of the Two Bibliomaniacs more than once while watching the film...  Bravo to everyone associated with the production. 
In conclusion, we loved The Help!  The book is a very worthy read with an even worthier premise.  Katherine Stockett did an admirable job with such an ambitious theme.  And as great as the book was, our opinion is that the movie was better.  This doesn’t happen very often, but in the curious case of The Help, these book lovers would rather watch it then read it.

Agree?  or should the Two Bibliomaniacs go seek some professional help?     


  1. Loved the movie. Loved the book. I really thought this was one of the best book-to-movies also. But I still loved the book.....

    Great stuff!

  2. Great review! I loved the movie, haven't read the book yet. I'm curious to know how the end differs...

  3. Hi!
    Have read the book and loved it, haven't seen the movie, but want to. Thanks for stopping by my place. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  4. I skimmed just like you suggested - I still want to read this!

    Basically, I wanted to comment to say hello :)

  5. I'm about 1/3 of the way through the book, which I'll finish before I'll allow myself to see the movie. I'm quite taken with it so far and find myself thinking about it all day. It helps to know that the ending is at least somewhat satisfying. Thanks!