I finished The Help on my way back to Winston this morning. I started this book a little over a week ago and have been saturating myself in the mid-1960 culture of Jackson, Mississippi. What a fascinating book, rich with complex characters that you love to hate and hate to love. Because I listened to it on audio book, I had the privilege to hear each character’s voice, along with their lovely southern accents and attitudes. I’ve listened to a number of audio books now and by far, this is the longest one yet with a total of 15 CDs and 18 hours of pure entertainment.
The book centers on a young, white southern woman who dialogues with African American maids in the area. Their goal is to get their stories out about what it is like to work for “the white woman.” Of course, being set in the 60s, racial tensions are high and their work must be kept completely anonymous.
Throughout the book, I was reminded by how awful the segregation was at that time, and thankful for the progress that has been made since. There were multiple references to Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I suppose the fact that I finished this book today is coincidental to the reality that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, exactly 43 years ago. He had a dream for peace and unity.
Yes, we have come along way since the Jim Crow Laws and the once accepted prejudices against our own humanity. But I am left with the question, “How much longer will it take?” I’m not necessarily talking about racial prejudices, though our world still has much work to do. What about gender? Immigration? Sexuality? Minority persecution? Genocide? War? Health care? How much longer will it take?
I recommend this book wholeheartedly. The movie comes out August 12, 2011. I think I’m already disappointed in the movie, if that makes any sense. I am almost positive a 2-hour movie cannot catch the width and depth of this novel. So, if you have 18 hours to spare (and be assured, you spend more time in your car than you realize!) get this audio book and be enthralled with The Help.