If you haven't checked out www.goodreads.com, you are missing out! This is a major book review website. It includes numerous authors, librarians, and readers. Anyone can join and anyone can post reviews. It is a wonderful way to check out books before you check out books (from the library). haha It's also a great way to make sure that your children are reading books appropriate for their age.
That said, here is my review of The Help by Kathryn Stockett:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Help is an excellent book that allegedly accurately portrays race relations in the South in the 1960s. This is from the perspective of black maids and their white employers. While I was a little concerned with a white person writing black dialect, it didn't seem stiff or "put on". The interactions between the various maids and employers were entertaining. The book showed the hopefulness of the black community for acceptance and equal protection/equal rights under the law, as well as the stubborn backward-glancing of some white characters who would have liked nothing more than to perpetuate the separation of the races through any means, including violence, misinformation, and outright lies. Some of the people in this book are not likeable at all, but others shine for their honesty and the clarity of their vision. This is a MUST read.
(I did notice one glaring error in the book, however. When discussing Medgar Evers' murder, book characters state he was bludgeoned to death. A quick internet check by Stockett or her editors would have quickly revealed that Evers was killed by an assassin's bullet. To make such an error is nothing short of lazy and is deeply disappointing, given that the book is truly about the civil rights movement.)
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[NOTE (added 08-21-11): I saw the movie version today. While the writer corrected the mistake about Medgar Evers' murder, so many things were changed from the book that it made me sad. Now, I know that when you translate a book to a screenplay, lots of things usually have to be left out. That's not what I'm complaining about here. Several of the changes didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason. One change in particular - the reason Constantine was no longer the maid for Skeeter's family - made it look like her mother was way more vindictive and wrong for what happened than it did in the book. I don't know if they were trying to soften the responsibility of other minor characters, but they certainly left Skeeter's mother looking more like one of the horrible employers Skeeter and the "colored domestics" were exposing in their book. If you ask me (which you didn't), you can see the movie for the performances, some of which were pretty good, but if you are going to see it, read the book afterward. I think you will be disappointed if you read the book first. I know I was.]