Book Club Meeting {The Help}

I hope it was helpful to have 2 mos.  to read this time.  Let me know your thoughts on the time.  Is it too much time and you forget or do you like the extra time?

For July and August we read:

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The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

I really liked this book.  It talked about a time and a people I didn’t know too much about.  The maids of this era weren’t far removed from their house slave ancestors.  Yet I loved how the author brought them to life.  They had families, fear and injustices of their own.  And their lives were truly intertwined with the families they worked for.  For better or worse.

This book made me disappointed.  Disappointed in humanity of that era.  That others could be treated with such disdain.  These are the souls raising our children.  And loving our children despite how their parents behave.  Walking with danger and treading on broken glass daily is no way to live.  Yet it was reality for them.

I am also proud.  That we have evolved from this time.  That we can treat all people with dignity.  To learn from others regardless of who they are or how they were born.  To realize that everyone has something of value and if we just look for that value, our lives will be richer.

I would hope that was the intended outcome these characters risked their very lives for.  And I know we as a people are not perfect in any way.  Hopefully the writing of this book will remind us of how far we have come and what we want to continually strive for.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this book.  I enjoy recommending good books to others, but the BEST part is hearing what they thought of them.  Please leave me your review in the comment section.  I will be responding to you through the comments to keep the discussion going.   Please check back often to see what others are saying and join in the conversation.  You can comment as often as you like.  Leave your review, ask a question you had while reading, answer a discussion question, comment on another readers review and generally talk about the book.  If you’d like to, you can subscribe to comments from this post so you don’t miss out on the conversation.

I have the best readers and am so looking forward to your thoughts on this book!!

P.S. also tell me what you thought of the time line for book club.  Was two months a good time or too long??

Here are some discussion questions to get the conversation going:

1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
2. What do you think motivated Hilly? On the one hand she is terribly cruel to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes that she can’t control her. Yet she’s a wonderful mother. Do you think that one can be a good mother but, at the same time, a deeply flawed person?
3. Like Hilly, Skeeter’s mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter— and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives to Constantine is untenable; and most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter’s mother is a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Why?
4. How much of a person’s character would you say is shaped by the times in which they live?
5. Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she can get married, and that it’s not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?
6. Do you believe that Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?
7. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?
8. From the perspective of a twenty-first century reader, the hairshellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what’s the most ridiculous beauty regimen you ever underwent?
9. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white?
11. What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!

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Comments

  1. Hi! I am a new follower of this site. I LOVE to read, but I've never been part of a book club. Sounds great! I've not read "The Help" yet, but it is on my list. When do you post the title of the book for the next 2 months?

  2. I guess I'll focus on Skeeter's willingness to stay with someone who is so obviously wrong for her.

    You've got to take into consideration how important it was for a woman to marry back then. Twenty-one, female, and unmarried? People were wondering what was wrong with you. When the vast majority of society expects you to marry early–preferably right out of high school, it is difficult to buck the system.

    Now add to that the growing equal rights movement and put it all in an area where the so many people were racists or at least segregationists. (Actually the majority of the country was like this–other areas just hid it better.)

    Skeeter was setting her moral compass in a whole new directions–against the norm– at the same moment in life when she was expected to marry. There is some discussion that this all should have been settled prior to leaving college. A big joke back then was that girls just went to college to find a husband.

    Skeeter was in a tough place with many many difficult choices. I could understand why she would try to do something "normal."

  3. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    Baye,
    I completely agree with you! Skeeter was already bucking the system in a major way. Perhaps it was easier to let this party of her life glide along. It must have been a relief to stop getting the comments and the stares and everyone's judgement. So maybe she just went along with the relationship as a way of having one less thing on her plate.
    You have great insight and I love hearing from you!

  4. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    Crystal, welcome! I'm excited to get to know you! The help is a really great book and I totally recommend it! I post the next selection at the first of the month. Look for it next wed. I also post our current selection in my left side bar. Also, if you click on book club at the top you can see all the book club selections plus our current pick. We are a laid back book club here. no real rules or assignments, just a group of readers getting together to discuss great books!Crystal, welcome! I'm excited to get to know you! The help is a really great book and I totally recommend it! I post the next selection at the first of the month. Look for it next wed. I also post our current selection in my left side bar. Also, if you click on book club at the top you can see all the book club selections plus our current pick. We are a laid back book club here. no real rules or assignments, just a group of readers getting together to discuss great books!

  5. Hello– We just recently covered The Help on our blog. :-)

    If it has you hankering for Minny's caramel cake, please stop by and check out our recipe for a microwave version-
    http://www.wordupnerdup.com/2011/08/29/monday-munchies-minnys-microwave-caramel-cake/

  6. Alicia @ littlesprinklesoffun says:

    I am so sad that I have not had the time to finish it. I love being able to discuss with you! :( I have just started really getting into the book. I have enjoyed the part that I have read! Hope your havin' a great weekend!

  7. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    Word Nerd,
    What a great idea!! I never thought of trying to do her cake recipe. Yours sounds yummy!!

  8. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    Alicia,
    I'm sure starting school again didn't make you busy at all lol. Hope things are going great for you guys!!

  9. Sew Delicious says:

    Hi,
    I loved this book. I read it last year and couldn't put it down. I am Australian so it was a real education for me and a window into US history (which we barely cover here in Australian schools). Of course the issues covered are so much more than what one book can convey, but the response the book has received has suggested that the fiction here quite accurately portrays some of the realities of the time.

    I loved Minny – such an amazing strength, attitude and humor in the face of oppression, in both society and her own home. I also loved the relationship between Celia and her husband (johnny? can't quite recall his name) and his devotion to her despite her perceived flaws.

    Skeeter frustrated me at times, I had to keep reminding myself that she didn't have the freedom women have now to just move on from her social circle and find more like minded people.

    I also enjoyed the suspense the author kept us in by concealing what Minny put in the cake until much later. I laughed when the story was revealed!

  10. Steph @ Crafting in the Rain says:

    Hi–I'll bite! I've never done a book club before–online or IRL (though I'm trying to as my family just started one)

    At any rate, I finished up this book about a week ago, and then just today stumbled across your blog.

    I did find it a little confusing that Hilly seemed to be such a good mom and also so cruel to other people around her. While Elizabeth (though a push-over) seemed to at least have her conscience pricking her a little over Hilly's treatment of Skeeter and Aibileen but would ignore her daughter constantly.

    I guess I hope it's possible to be a good mom and still have flaws ('cause heaven knows I've got them) but hopefully not anything that would compare to those extremes.

  11. Mandy @ Sugar Bee Crafts says:

    Thanks for linking to TAke-A-Look Tuesday – you were featured today!!
    –Mandy, http://www.SugarBeeCrafts.com

  12. I don't think Skeeter did give in to the "Marriage Culture" – She didn't have to explain her feelings. She could have given up on what she believed and been "happily" married. She felt (and a little bit was) totally alone by sticking to her morals. You want to just hate her mother for how she acts…but I have to ask myself how easy it would be to to accept something my daughter was doing if I thought it was absolutely wrong. It's hard to even put ourselves in her shoes because we grew up knowing racism is wrong. But Skeeters mother lived her whole life being taught otherwise… It's hard to blame her when that's what she was taught. (I guess I'm a little conflicted.) I LOVED this book. I loved having a sneak peak into the lives of all the different women. I think each one of them was wanting to feel normal, and fit into that "mold" – I think we can all relate to that. Wanting to have a child – feeling trapped by motherhood- trapped by finances – choosing to do what's right, even if you might loose your "friends". Love Love Love this book and I'm excited to look up and see what the next book read is!

  13. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    Sew Delicious {great name},
    I am glad for your insights. I have Australia on my list of "someday I am SO going to visit" spots!!
    I so agree with you on Celia. I felt so bad for her at times. She was trying so hard to fit in and just never quite got it. But she was so nice to Minny and gave her security so I loved her for that. I have been through the unique pain of infertility and so my heart broke for her. I was relieved her husband was loyal to her and it made me love his character!!

  14. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    Steph,
    It is actually a commentary on life in general. We all have areas in our lives that we do well and others that we know we are not excelling in and we kind of brush them under the rug. Be it diet, health, work, homeaking, whatever. We as women especially put our children first and push other things off. I'm not saying she knew she was wrong and continued to do it {although I wonder} But it makes me think about the areas in my life I may be doing well and the areas I am not seeing how bad I am doing. What a great comment!!

  15. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    JkClark,
    Your comment really made me think. I would have a BIG problem with my daughter doing something I felt in my heart was wrong or would harm her. And you're right according to how she was raised and the prevailing wisdom of the times she probably felt that Skeeter was doing a wrong or bad thing. Something to think about. Thanks for sharing!!

  16. Hello! Sign up to be notified by email when the next Oprah’s Book Club pick is announced and available for pre-order. By the way the best paper writing service that I saw: http://speedypaper.net/

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