The Help [Trigger Warning]

I read the book titled The Help last week. There is a movie out now based on the book. I would not have known the movie fact if a wedding guest had not told me about it.  Oddly, the trailer for the movie seems to paint the story as a comedy, at least the trailer I saw. I did not find the book at all comical.  In fact, I found it sad, interesting, offensive, a bit questionable and oh yeah, triggering.

Warning for anyone reading the book (I don’t know if this piece made it to the movie) there is a passage or two about a maid that has to surrender her child to adoption. She surrenders the child to an orphanage, in Chicago of all places. There is also a small discussion of a reunion that took place. The adult adoptee finds her mama.  I wont spoil the rest. Just wanted to offer a heads up.  I personally despise getting blindsided by adoption when I am reading.

Particularly when I am returning home from the city I surrendered my own first born in.

 

ETA: No surprise, minutes after posting this I see a link on Dawn’s Facebook about this very book/movie. Different  perspective. Kathryn Stockett Is Not My Sister and I Am Not Her Help

9 Thoughts.

  1. Hi Suz -first of all congrats and mazal tov on your wedding, great pics.
    I’ve read the Help too, and I thought it was very well written and typical of the times being described. Although I’m not an American, I have read an awful lot about America and was alive during the times described in the book. I remember when Kennedy was assasinated, I was about 11-12 and I lived in the UK then, and the world kind of stood still. Anyway, I agree with you it definitely triggers, and lately I’m finding a lot of books that do that, and films and serials. It seems to me that almost eerything one watches or reads is about or around or has been of adoption…………..you know what I mean, but I do recommend the book in any event. Btw I’m a mother of loss too.

    • HI Sharon. Thanks for your note. I should have probably expanded on my thoughts a bit. First and foremost, I was NOT alive during that time period (born int he last 60s). As such, I learned most of what I know through schooling and such. While there was little to no education on what it was like to be a black women caring for the children of white women (and their homes and lives) I found myself questioning the accuracy of the book and also if the author was really the best person to share this (nonfiction as it may be). As alluded to elsewhere, the book seemed to have a bit of a romantic, good feel to it at at times and I struggling to find anything good or romantic about that time in our history. Other things, like the way the author portrayed the spoken voices of the black women, sat oddly with me. The last passage where she talks about her own black maid only muddied the waters further for me. I have many more thoughts on it but only so much room for this comment!

  2. This book is HUGE, everyone’s reading and talking about it. I haven’t yet and am debating whether to see the movie first. Rarely are movie versions as good as the book…

    Thanks for the trigger warning. I too am better off knowing it’s coming than to get blindsided.

  3. Huh, so a black maid’s child is sent from Mississippi to Chicago to be adopted by a black family and…? Huh. I hadn’t heard that aspect of it, but I’d gone out of my way not to read the book because it seemed so problematic.

    • Ah, but Thorn, I should spoil more of the book. The black maids baby is born “high yellow”, almost white. The racial issues of the times alledgedly contribute to her surrenderring her child to adoption. The black mother was not perceived as the mother and as a black woman to what appeared to be white child, she was not deeemed acceptable. It is a rather cliche adoptoin story line but one the author apparently felt fit the times. (Interestingly, second time in my life I heard/read the term “high yellow” as my old roomate was also once referred to as such — by a darker skinned black woman – and she went berserk. Not knowing the word, I was befuddled. She later explained to me).

  4. I read the book and enjoyed it. I’ll be seeing the movie later this week – it’ll be interesting to see how the book is interepreted for the screen.

  5. I’ve skipped the book and don’t think I’ll see the movie. I find that when masses of people are fawning over a book, I rarely like it. I also regularly find that people who try to capture original voices (even in non-fiction), especially in the old south, do a lousy job. We are a complicated group down here. Our issues are more visible than others, even now, but there are a lot more shades of gray than most people are comfortable exploring. I suspect this has too much sentimental antics, tries to generate simplistic moral outrage and pushes fake sisterly bonding in the face of adversity for my taste. I can already see it has a plucky white girl willing to stand up for the others. Will there be nodding glances from wise black women too?

      • Aww, that’s right special. Sorry, you know I’m terrible in general.

        I am reading a book that was turned into a movie this year tho. It’s called “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and so far it’s a very interesting fiction read from the perspective of a mother of a teenager who has gone on a shooting spree at his school who is trying to figure out how they got where they are, http://www.amazon.com/We-Need-Talk-About-Kevin/dp/006072448X It’s from 2003, don’ t know how I missed it.

        In the upcoming movie, Tilda Swinton plays the mother and I think she’s just a tremendous actress and creepy as all get out (which I love) so I decided to tackle the book.

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