Monday, March 12, 2012

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Rating: 5 out of 5
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 791 KB
Publisher: Penguin (July 23, 2009)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

I recently got to read the book shortly after watching the movie. I did this deliberately because I NEVER like a movie based on a book if I watch it after having read the book. As there are plenty of The Help book reviews around I thought I would do a comparison between the book and movie.

The movie adaptation over all to be quite good. The actors were well cast and the script kept the essence of each of the main characters. It was pleasing to see that Octavia Spencer won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Minny. She absolutely nailed Minny I felt. As is to be expected the movie does leave out some details or skims over events. In one case it kept the essence of a couple of scenes but merged them in to one. I cried in some parts of the film and felt the movie delivered the message of the film effectively and beautifully.

However the book naturally is much better. So much better. It delivers the story with so much more ompf. There is more depth and back ground to the characters and the world they live in. You get a greater sense of what a dangerous thing writing this book was. You were swept along with the characters and completely invested in them.

Celia Foote has a greater role in the book and is not so ditzy as portrayed in the movie. I must admit after reading her character's story in the book and her interaction with Minny things in the movie made more sense. I also had more compassion and admiration for Celia in the book then I did in the movie. The book version of Celia was one of my favorite characters, the movie version was cute but didn't drive home the same message or evoke the same feelings.

My biggest love of the book was that it didn't get bogged down in the racial tension that was surrounding the characters at the time. It really focused on the relationships and the weird love/hate dynamic and the weird views between the white folk and the African American help. On the one hand you had white adults who wouldn't let the help use their toilets due to fear of disease, yet had no problems with them changing their babies nappies. The help could clean (and thus touch) the dishes but were not allowed to eat off them.

The book also had a strong focus on the absolute love and devotion the children and the help have for each other. Some of the most beautiful moment were with Aibileen and the child she cared for. The mantra she would say to Mae Mobley "You is kind. You is smart. You is important" is a beautiful thing for everyone to remember.

The movie focused a little to much on the book writing side of the story for my liking. Which while I was watching the film was fine, but after reading the book annoyed me a little. The movie did touch on the relationships but for me was not as powerful as the book.

Overall the book is the winner hands down, so you really need to separate the movie to the book. They are different almost different entities. I enjoyed both but for different reasons. But I am glad I watched the movie first otherwise I would have hated it. I would not hesitate to recommend either the book or movie though.

I read this as part of the book reading club The Orange Prize Project, where readers commit to read at least one book nominated for the Orange Prize For Fiction in the months of January or July (mainly during these two months but others read all year round).

If you would like to read some of my reviews for other Orange Prize for Fiction books please click on the links below to my previous reviews:

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