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Posts Tagged ‘The Help’

“And al of my childhood memories are full of the things you did for me and even though I act crazy, I gotta thank the Lord that you made me.” -2Pac Shakur

In honor of Mother’s Day last week I began compiling a list of my top picks for the best, most memorable, or my favorite mothers in literature.

  1. Marmee March. For anyone whose read any of this blog before you will know how much I love Little Women. Marmee March is the mother I hope to be one day.
  2. Hester Prynne. The protective protagonist of Hawthorne’s masterful work, Hester Prynne really got shafted by a few lousy dudes. The book has spawned many great spin-offs including the movie Easy A and also the badly done movie version staring Demi Moore as well as a sci-fi novel When She Woke which is a futuristic re-telling of Hester’s struggle.
  3. The Mom from I Love You Forever. Though this mother is never given any title except for Mother she still stands out in my mind as an amazing character. I have yet to read this book without crying and feeling the urge to call my own mother up and rock her in a rocking chair. Munsch is able to capture the enormous cycle of life and death in very few pages.
  4. “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines …”. Those twelve little girls are all under the care of a Parisian nurse named Miss Clavel who runs a Catholic Boarding School for girls inParis. Though technically not a mother, per say, Miss Clavel did mother the girls and love them like a mother. However, Miss Clavel got a little more than she bargained for when Madeline came to stay. Maddy was always giving Miss Clavel some kind of fright and it’s a wonder she didn’t die young from worry. A true gentle spirit and loving lady Miss Clavel was not just a nurse to the girls she also became their teacher, their guardian, their friend and of course, their mother.
  5. The Mother from Where the Wild Things Are. With Maurice Sendak passing away last week, I knew I had to include this mother. Though we rarely see her in the book, she is a super mom nonetheless. When troublesome Max (wouldn’t it be great if Max grew up to marry the equally troublesome Madeline (see #4) and their children were double trouble!) gets sent to his room without supper he imagines his room becoming a wild and magical forest full of mysterious creatures called “the wild things.” Max’s adventures with the wild things ends with his feeling lonely and homesick. Once returning to his room he finds that his supper is waiting for him, still hot, from his loving mother!
  6. Forced to choose which of her two of her children would die in a concentration camp, the title character fromSophie’s Choice, Sophie Zawistowski, lives in a self-destructive bubble of guilt for the rest of her days after the choice has been made. The heartbreak of her selection eventually leads to her death at her own hand. Consumed by guilt and self hatred Sophie is a pitiful character who had to make an impossible choice between her two children, something no mother should ever have to do.
  7. Upon first reading Anne of Green Gables I did not like Marilla Cuthbert at all. She was just the opposite from her delightful brother, Matthew. When older siblings, Marilla and Mathew decide to adopt a little boy to help them on their farm they do not expect to get the spunky red headed Anne Shirley, but, they do. After deciding to keep her, Anne earns herself into a special place in each Cuthbert’s heart. Though Marilla never really gets as attached to Anne as Matthew does, she still ends up loving the girl despite her best efforts not to.
  8. After her friends discover her “spy notebook” Ole Golly is the only friend left for Harriett (the spy) Welsch. Technically not Harriett’s actual mother, Ole Golly is actually Harriett’s nanny. However, like Miss Clavel (see #4) Ole Golly becomes so much more to Harriett. Constantly providing wisdom and love and insight to the young girl Ole Golly is brutally fired after a misunderstanding between Ole Golly and Harriett’s parents. As I was reading The Help I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between young Harriett & Ole Golly and Skeeter Phelan & Constantine. In The Help, Skeeter has just graduated from college (Ole Miss) and aspires to be a journalist. Upon returning home she finds out that her house servant Constantine has been brutally fired by her mother. Both books are great and I highly recommend them both.
  9. Ma from Room. A young girl is kidnapped from a college campus and forced to live in a tool shed. While spending many years in here she is impregnated and gives birth to a little boy named Jack. The story is narrated by Jack and through his young eyes we see the love that a child can have for their mother.
  10. Novalee Nation. Sixteen, pregnant, and moving across country with her boyfriend, Novalee gets a thread of bad luck when the boyfriend abandons her in a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma. Novalee lives in the Wal-Mart and even begins to give birth in the store until a strange local librarian breaks through a window to get her to a hospital. After the birth of the baby Novalee becomes quite a celebrity, but she sticks to her small Oklahoma town that she has adopted as her own and raises her baby with love and kindness for everyone (even that good-for-nothing boyfriend).

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 Some things are melting now, well what’s it gonna take till my baby’s alright? -Tori Amos

On GoodReads I challenged myself to read sixty-one books this year. Tonight, December 20, 2011 at 8:45 PM I reached my goal. My (possible) last book of 2011 was The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian. (side note, I highly recommend you watch that interview with Bohjalian that can be found by following that link. It was great to hear how he came up with the idea for the book and how he himself had moved into a creepy house much like the Linton’s do in his novel.) I have given this book three stars on GoodReads which means I liked it. I did. I liked it. Right up until the epilogue. I sat for a moment thinking about what kind of post I wanted to do tonight. Perhaps one expressing my ire at poor epilogues. How can one futuristic look at the lives of beloved characters ruin an entire story? I’m not sure how, but I know that it sure can.

I came into the office and recorded my book on GoodReads as read. I was then greeted with a congratulatory box stating that I had reached my goal. I then decided to look at all of the books that I have read over this past year. Looking at the covers brings back a specific memory of exactly where I was at (physically) and where I was (emotionally) when I was reading that book. The first book I read in 2011 was To The Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf. This brings back memories of last Christmas at my parent’s house. It was a horrific holiday. I was snowed in and missed two trains that were to take me to see my boyfriend who I was in a very long-distance relationship with at the time. I spent too much time cooped up with my parents and as a result we fought. Big time. I retreated into my bedroom (slamming the door and screaming as if I were right back in high school again despite the fact that I am a 26 year old adult) with the Ramsay’s. I didn’t care for this book at all. In fact it is still sitting in a basket in my old bedroom at my parent’s house. I gave it two stars. As I look back at the reviews of it on GoodReads I have to wonder if it was truly the book that I didn’t care for, or was it the prisoner-like way I was being held against my will and being treated?

I read the entire Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson (read my post on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo here) this year. I remember reading all of them in my second-story bedroom in coastal, NC. The first I read as a borrowed copy from G’s mom. I started it on the road back from Raleigh where we spent New Year’s Eve. I remember reading it in G’s jeep as we crossed the entire state. I read the second two as borrowed copies from the library. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest was read in late spring, mostly on the beach.

I read the last two books of the Hunger Games trilogy this year. Both on my Nook that I got for my birthday in March (read about that adventure here).

I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in May. It took me five days to read it. I read it in the midst of an emotional crisis. I remember finishing it on the beach on a breezy, cool day by myself. I remember people walking by, but I don’t remember anything specific about those people because I was so engrossed in the book. I was alone as I read it. I went to the end of the island and turned off my phone and I faced my towel towards the horizon and I devoured the atrocity that was the medical field.

This year, I am selecting The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as my book of the year. I am selecting it for many reasons and before I do an entire post on it I feel the need to collect and focus my thoughts on the book a little bit more. However soon, look for my 2011 book-of-the-year post. Until then, revisit last year’s post on The Help which I selected as my 2010 book of the year.

Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Christmas, Have a blessed new year. Until Next Time…

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“I listened wide-eyed, stupid. Glowing by her voice in the dim light. If chocolate was a sound, it would’ve been Constantine’s voice singing. If singing was a color, it would’ve been the color of that chocolate.”

We had a “huge snowstorm” yesterday (barely 3 inches, but here in the costal south that’s a LOT) which led me to be out of school all day so needless to say, I had a lot of spare time on my hands. I was clicking around on NPR and saw an article that they had where the people affiliated with NPR had selected their choices of the best books for 2010. Since January 2011 just started I thought that I might blog and throw in my pick for the best book of 2010.

I have selected The Help Kathryn Stockett as the best book of 2010. Okay okay okay, I know that the book came out in 2009 but I did not read it until 2010 and it seemed to be such a very popular book last year. As I am writing this I just checked the NYT Bestsellers List and The Help is still standing strong on that list at #11 (January 11, 2011 6:40 PM EST). I am also excited to report that the theatrical version is set to be released on August 12 of this year. I read this book over the summer as I was moving from Greensboro, NC to the coast (about a 4.5 hour move). I was in the passenger seat heading back to Greensboro after a few days at the coast and my boyfriend was driving as I was reading this book. For several minutes we had been silently going down the highway when a minivan came up next to us and the wife was also reading The Help. She pointed this out to us and we both gave it a thumbs up. That’s when I knew it was a popular book! The book brought us two strangers traveling down I-40 together just for a split second. The book brought the characters and the different segregated races together for a lifetime.

The quote that I selected to start this post off is the narrarator, Skeeter Phelan reminiscing about her families former maid Constantine who rasised Skeeter. Constaintine was Skeeter’s friend, mother, confidant. Skeeter is a character who is so precocious and driven in her beliefs that you know from the start that that despite any hardships that may befall her, and believe me there are plenty, through the book her ending will be a triumphant one.

Skeeter is 22 years old and has just returned to her small southern town after graduating from Ole Miss. Skeeter has returned to a very unwelcoming situation. Her mother is a pain (as mothers almost always are) who wants the brilliantly talented Skeeter to get married despite the fact that a talent for words and writing ooze from Sketer. To make matters worse, Constaintine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone or the circumstances behind her sudden and (to Skeeter) unexpected disapperance. Despite the fact that Skeeter is our narrarator and the character in the story that I could most relate to, my favorite character undoubtedly is the sage-like Aibileen. Aibileen has lost her own son to an unfortunate and preventable accident. Raising her seventeenth white child Aibileen becomes the mother to this child that she can no longer be for her own son. Aibileen is such a rounded character. At times Aibileen is funny, wise, careless, thoughtful, and above all heartbreaking. Aibileen works for Skeeter’s best friend Miss Hilly. Miss Hilly is one of those characters that you wish was real, just so you could kick their teeth out.

The book centers on Skeeter’s need to connect to the silent Constantine again by telling the stories of all of the maids in the town. Though this just about the most dangerous thing that she and the maids can do, they all realize that it is something that they must do. While composing the histories of the towns help Skeeter grows up and becomes her own person, WITHOUT a wedding ring, I might add! She experiences heartbreak, loss, fear, ostracism, shame and disappointment. In one fashion or another, each of the maids as well as the other society women that make up Skeeter’s group of friends do as well.

The book is well written and it takes into account the views of each character. The book got under my skin and it made me want to be a part of the history much in the same way that Skeeter was. I would recommend this book to anyone. This book is a great one for book clubs. The discussion that can come from the action and the issues in the book is plentiful. Above all, this book is about connections made and friendships savored. I hope that you love it as much as I did!

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