Tag Archives: book

“R” you in love with Warm Bodies? A book and movie review

8 Feb

“I am dead, but it’s not so bad. I’ve learned to live with it.”

And I was hooked. This is the first line of Isaac Marion’s novel, Warm Bodies, and right away I felt that I had connected with his main character–who just so happens to be a mildly clear-thinking, witty, brain-eating zombie. If I had to sum up this story: it’s a romance–with zombies. Marion’s novel stuck with me as he narrates a story above life, love and survival from the eyes of someone who is already dead. (well…sort of. )

The lead character, who goes by only the letter R as he has forgotten the rest of his name, is a zombie. He explains right away that the living dead can’t remember their names, their past lives or what it was like to be alive anymore–they only keep going, unable to communicate, trapped within rotting bodies.

This brilliant novel struck a chord with me–and it is obvious from the movie that it struck the filmmakers in the same way–in regard to the lack of human interaction and communication in the present. R poses questions to himself and to the reader as he faces his inner self in various conflicts–like eating people, for example. Although R knows that he has to eat people to survive, he doesn’t like to hurt people. He has inner conflict about it. I suppose that is partly why he was susceptible in the first place to falling for one of the living.

After eating the brain of a boy named, Perry, R finds himself hopelessly enamored with a girl named, Julie. The only problem is that she is alive. Torn between his nature and his newly discovered feelings, R seeks to protect the terrified Julie, and after camouflaging her scent in his dead blood so the other zombies won’t smell her, he takes her back to his home in the airport. Julie is understandably terrified at first, but soon R shows that he is becoming something bigger than he once once. Speech begins to return to him in blurbs at first, hunger for flesh and brains ebbs and his attachment to Julie grows.

I have always been a fan of the unusual point of view narrations–but so far, Warm Bodies takes the cake as one of my favorites. R’s narrative is an exciting combination of poetry, philosophy and gore. I quickly grew attached to the lead character and found myself rooting for him as he fights to change and as Julie rallies with him to find a “cure” to the zombie “plague”. All the while they each face their own version of zombies, both actual and physical as the actual humans within the story begin losing what made them such and emotionally slowly decays.

The film Warm Bodies, does a pretty fair job of picking up on R’s sense of humor–though I would have liked if it retained more of his inner narrative than was given. However, it was impressive how much emotion I felt came across from the actor who played R, Nicholas Holt,despite his lack of much facial expression or vocal cues.

Perhaps it was because I read the book that I felt that the actress who played Julie, Teresa Palmer, seemed to show less emotion than Holt, who was the actual zombie. She didn’t seem nearly as charismatic or lively as she is depicted in the novel: however, the film’s version of Julie has a grittier, older feel–and for a moment or two it feels like the movie version of The Hunger Games. (Which perhaps was the point?)

What I applaud the film most for is the horrific visual of the Boneys, skeleton-like zombies who within the novel are the leaders of the Zombie “hives”. They were truly grotesque in movements and presentations. They even made me jump.

Though, I wish that the film has stuck with the ending given to Julie’s father, General Grigio. It better reflected the comparison between current humanity and zombies, and though grim, I felt was more suitable. But alas, Hollywood loves their happy endings!

I rate the novel a 7 out of 10 on the restless writer scale, and the movie a four out of five cupcakes.

All and all, both the film and novel are worthwhile time-passers for this winter. And for those who love romance and also zombies–these are to die for. (Or perhaps to live!)

Sold by Patricia McCormick, a book review, and Moving to Baltimare

6 Oct

When I visited my local Barnes and Noble last night, I wasn’t sure what sort of book I wanted. The shelves loomed in a labyrinthine maze, lined with books of all sizes and colors as I wandered through them. Here and there, I would touch my fingertips to the spines of books on the shelves, as if this simple gesture would give to me some sense of the story that was behind the cover.

It was there that I stumbled across a bright yellow book with a striking black and white image of a young girl’s face peering from a sari. “Sold” the cover declared in bold plain red text. Drawn to this image, I left the store with my prize in hand.

I started it as soon as I arrived home, and found myself unable to put it down; worried for what might happen if I left the main character alone in the closed pages of the novel.

Patricia McCormick’s, “Sold”, is a striking story about a young girl named Lakshmi who is taken from her mountain home in Nepal under the pretense of being hired as a maid in the City to help feed her struggling family. To Lakshmi and the reader’s horror, she is instead sold into prostitution in India.

The story is written less like a novel, and more like a poetry anthology that interconnects perfectly. Each “Chapter” is  a literary poem that leads the reader along on Lakshmi’s sometimes beautiful, sometimes sad, but always powerful journey. Only 13 when she is sold by her stepfather, the reader is told through Lakshmi’s point of view the horrifying story that is sadly a reality for nearly 12,000 Nepali girls each year. (Figure taken from the afterword) It is by sheer power of her soul that Lakshmi seems to survive and (spoilers!) eventually escape from life as a child-prostitute. We see the young girl’s change from nieve and innocent, to self-loathing, to strong and determined as the novel progresses. Despite the novel’s heavy subject matter, I felt a great sense of relief and hope at its’ close.  This novel is certainly a three out of four cupcakes on the Pinky Pie scale.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

 

On a lighter note: I started my new job this week! That’s right folks, Pinky Pie moved to Baltimare! So far, the work is a horse of a different color from what I had been working on before. It’s tough training, and getting access for a while to all of the new systems I required for my work seemed impossible–but luckily things are working out for the most part.

My new manager seems sweet and somewhat soft spoken. When you speak to her, you can almost see the wheels in her head turning as she seeks out the most appropriate words to use in her next sentence. Despite her soft and careful ways, do not think she is a pushover. Already, I have seen her be firm with people–but always fair. So far, she seems to genuinely want me to succeed in learning all that I can. Meet Baltimare’s Cheerilee.

 

 

The pony who is training me seems very high energy, if not high strung. She is full of knowledge and excited to train me–but isn’t exactly the most patient mare for the job. She also has quite an ego–which for now–I will be sure to beef up as much as possible while we have to work in close quarters. Meet Baltimare’s  “Great and Powerful “Trixie.

To my left the “Great and Powerful” Trixie of Baltimare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pony who sits in front of her seems to be the oldest of the group, and also the most cynical. I find her extremely funny and charming. She likes to decorate her desk and provides everyone with candies. So far, I don’t know much else about her–other than that she seems to be harboring some inner sadness that she may be working out. (Still she’s very sweet.) Meet Baltimare’s Mrs. Cup Cake.

Behind Trixie sits a very quiet colt. He’s only there twice a week, and works from home primarily. Compared to myself and Trixie, he says very little–but when he does talk, it’s usually hilarious. He’s very sweet and patient. (Don’t tell Trixie, but I like it when he trains me better.) Meet Baltimare’s Big Macintosh.

So far, everypony is really nice. And I look forward to getting to know them all better. I also look forward to learning more and more about my new position.

Pinky Pie the restless writer–out!

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (Now with Jelly Babies!)

21 Jun

I can hardly believe that the third book in the Kane Chronicle Series by Rick Riordan is already out on shelves. In fact, if I hadn’t been creeping on Mr. Riordan’s Facebook page–I probably wouldn’t have known for a long while.  But as luck or fate or by some blessing of Thoth (the Egyptian god of Knowledge–had a bird head–keep up people.) I managed to scoop up yet another tantalizing read.

If you’re extremely confused–please see my previous two reviews on The Red Pyramid and Throne of Fire, the first two novels in Riordan’s latest literary adventure.

Once again we join our favorite narrators, Sadie and Carter Kane as they take turns speaking into a tape recorder about their latest adventures and mishaps involving the Egyptian Gods. Once more our story starts with a less-than-pleasant battle within the walls of a museam, only this time the Kanes have no need to break in. After the last novel, we have been told that the House of Life (Sort of like the Egyptian Magicians Union) has been divided by the death of the former Head Lector, Dejardins, the appointment of the new Head Lector, the Kane’s uncle Amos, and the differing opinions in the Gods. As such, the Kanes have (a few) allies, including the group in Texas who runs the Dallas museum. What are they after this time–you wonder? Of course this novel’s goal is the absolutely necessary defeat of Apophis–a giant, sun-swallowing, chaos-loving snake that wants to destroy the world as we know it.

Apparently, Apophis has been immensely busy destroying one specific ancient artifact as of late, written by a former magician, Setne.(He literally comes back to haunt them later in the story.)  The Kanes and their initiates know that as this pattern continues, this scroll must hold some secret to beating the baddie–so they insist on trying to protect it. We see our fuzzy baboon friend, Jaz the healer/ rock-thrower and Walt the boy cursed to die young from magic use (See also King Tut.) are still part of the Kane’s gang, along with penguin-loving Felix for this round with chaos. Unfortunately, as seems to be the opening pattern in the Kane Chronicles, the mission goes horribly awry, ending in the deaths of party-going magicians gathered outside and the last scroll they needed destroyed.

Instead, Sadie has a vision of a pointy-nosed man she dubs “Uncle Vinnie” who materializes from the wall just before the battle and tells her to save the golden box. (Sadie almost dies in the process and has a chat with her favorite hottie-god Anubis who urgently tries to tell her something.) The group manages to do as much, and with no other survivors, they retreat back to Brooklyn House full of guilt and regret. Once home, the siblings figure out that the box they saved is also known as a Shadow box, for the Sheut,(Shadow) another important part of the Egyptian soul. Again, we see Riordan focus his novel on a major portion of the Egyptian soul using it as the primary weapon and theme throughout the novel. Bast–their pet cat-goddess–doesn’t seem very eager to help the children decipher much about the Sheut and instead directs them to Thoth.

It is then that Carter is called away for an important scrying message from Zia (aka the girl who was formally a shabti (a statue made to look and act alive.) ) Apparently, the news isn’t good and brings more threats from rebel magicians out for the Kane’s blood. Only highlighting the blatant fighting among the House of Life.

This message eventually leads to the splitting up of the Kane Siblings to accomplish two separate missions but not before a little scene at the children’s school–a dance. Here Sadie is confronted by Anubis, warning her just before they are separated by a very huffy God of the Wind, still attempting to tell her something urgent before he is swept away again. In his place is now a formerly evil Russian magician who has come to warn the Kanes of the imminent peril they face when facing the rebels.

With more bad news on their plates, Sadie and the Russian hurry to meet up with Amos while Carter and Walt head to ask Thoth for more advise. Both parties meet with difficulties which continue throughout the novel. ( Including various fights with the Gods, including one with a Goddess which Sadie convinces Jelly Babies are deadly creatures to hunt.)

The Deadly Jelly Babies (see also The 4th Doctor)

 

The biggest problem in this novel for the main characters (aside from the ever approaching threat of a giant snake eating the sun and how to destroy him.) is love troubles. Walt, the boy who Sadie falls for, is destined to die at a young age and there is a constant depressing threat of his imminent death overhanging their relationship. Meanwhile, Carter deals with at first unrequited feelings, then double what he had bargained for with Zia. Both Sadie and Carter must face the difficult probability of losing the person they have fallen for, along with each other.

This novel proves once more successful, in introducing a real connection to the characters as well as pulling off a fairly seamless storyline. Again, I found myself constantly pulled back into the pages of the story, wanting to know more, wanting to put the puzzle pieces of their newest problem together to see how Sadie and Carter would save the day (literally) in this one. Going along with the theme of Shadows, or Sheut, this novel seems to deal with a few more darker problems than in the last two novels: namely death and the soul. In the last novel, death was touched upon more than once, but it grows much more person in this novel. Walt’s character is developed through Sadie and Carter’s eyes, making you feel personally connected to him as they watch him slowly withering. Also, Sadie and Carter’s mother (who died prior to The Red Pyramid but now rules alongside their underworld dad, Osiris.) is also sucked into this concept of death, initiating the idea of total oblivion and losing those that we most love–a dark and difficult thought subject. Riordan manages to balance this darkness with his own, lighthearted narration from the eyes of Carter and Sadie.

I look forward to reading the next edition in this series (though it is hinted in the first and last chapters of the novel that Sadie and Carter won’t be making any more recordings due to the circumstances that arise in the end.) I am hoping this is just a ruse for the next novel.

Until the next time everypony!

 

Rick Riordan’s Third novel in the Kane Chronicles Series

 

Once more,

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith A Novel Review

11 Jun

Four score and a few months ago, while awaiting the showing of The Hunger Games–I discovered what film I wanted next to see. While my girlfriends gawked excitedly at the preview for Titanic in 3D (and I grimaced, recognizing my old foe that caused my still deeply ingrained fear of sailing…) I found myself instead in awe of the trailer that followed it: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I felt my nerdiness rise to the surface to gasp asthmatically. No, that, was a movie worth seeing. Something old–made new. Not just with 3D slapped into it! An entirely unique concept.

It was later to my great joy that I was told that this movie that looked both absurd and would feed my inner nerd, was also a book. So that’s when I found myself tumbling toward the book store, eager to get my hands on a copy. It did not disappoint.

Created by the author who is known for, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this dark fact-ion kept my pouring through the pages. I couldn’t put it down. Which was a pleasant surprise.

When I started reading the novel, I at first worried that it would be too factual to be interesting–but I was so wrong. This novel’s beauty lies in its well-researched narration of the life of one of our nation’s most infamous presidents, Abe Lincoln. What feels like common knowledge about this man: that he started off in a poor family, that his life was riddled with loss and passion, and that he stood as a symbol of freedom for all men regardless of color is painted in a close, very personal way that makes (a usually dull subject for me) history interesting.Where do the vampires come in–you ask? Well, where it makes sense of course.

Abe and our readers are introduced to the concept of those blood-sucking demons, vampires, from the very beginning. As history tells, a strange unidentified illness takes Abe’s mother from him when he is very young. Grahame-Smith is clever enough to take advantage of the plot holes that history has left him, and plugged in the only “logical” answer–vampires. A vampire gives Abe’s mother a “fool’s dose” of vampire blood, killing her painfully as vengeance for his father’s unpaid debt. Abe never seems able to forgive his father for this. Nor vampires of course. And thus begins our story.

The reader is guided through Abe’s difficult life in a very factual way, making some of the fiction difficult to separate from the fact. (Sometimes it’s not–and it’s just plain hilarious.) We encounter Abe’s view of Slavery throughout his life (and mind you, he is never fond of it.) But upon discovering that the slave trade is literally feeding the vampire population, Abe’s resolve to end slavery (and by extension vampires) is solidified.

I absolutely recommend picking this up if you like fact-ion. (And non sparkly-vampires.)

Look forward to seeing my review of the movie which premiers June 22nd!

“I must endure. I must be more than I am. I must not fail. I must not fail her.”

Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan Book Review (with Ultra-speedo Powers!)

8 May

As promised my dear Readers, I have torn triumphantly through the pages of the latest novel in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, Throne of Fire.

I was thrilled to find that as with The Red Pyramid, the story was hard to put down, constantly keeping me intrigued by the fascinating mix of Egyptian mythology and the plight of Sadie and Carter Kane. (If you haven’t yet read my previous entry in regards to The Red Pyramid–now would be an excellent time to do so. )

I was also pleasantly pleased to find that unlike his Percy Jackson books, the second novel was as well written and spellbinding as the first. The only real qualm I tended to have with Throne of Fire was with the sporadic  modern-day culture references and jokes throughout the novel. They felt forced most of the time, and tended to pull me out of the story momentarily while I tried to get back into the Egyptian groove.

Throne of Fire follows the same pattern as in The Red Pyramid, of being made to feel as if the two main characters were narrating to the reader via a tape recording that the author has discovered. The story takes place roughly three months after The Red Pyramid ends, and you are immediately thrust into the scene of Sadie and Carter, perched on the roof of the Brooklyn Museum, preparing to break in. This story focuses on the need to collect the book of Ra, which is most unfortunately in three pieces. The god of chaos, Apophis (as those of you who read the last book will recall) is stirring, threatening to destroy our world as we know it, and the only way to stop him is to awaken the god of Ma’at (good magic.) Ra. Also known as the Sun god.

Of course, this can’t be an easy task but it rests mainly on the shoulders of our beloved Kane siblings. I say mainly, because now we find that Sadie and Carter are no longer the only godlings–they have gathered more in order to train them in the old ways (the Godling way that makes the House of Life want to kill them.) and help them defeat Apophis. Two of their initiates are along with them for the break-in, Jaz and Walt. We are later introduced to a handful of others that range in age and aren’t much developed (probably to be done in the next novel.) other than to let the reader see that their magics are a work in process.

Anyway, they bust into the museum, in order to get the first part of what they need. (Of course, not knowing what it is yet.) Meanwhile, they have to avoid a wedding that is currently in place in the halls, as well as magical security devices. (Both of which do not work out in their favor.) Needless to say, they get what they need along with Jaz in a coma and a Griffon that only says “Frreeeaakk!” The whole thing is of course, botched, and off thy go back to their hideout, Brooklyn House. (A magical house that belongs to their uncle Amos. Please read the Red Pyramid if you haven’t yet.)  Bast, their cat turned cat-goddess, is awaiting them and is able to put Sadie out. (She’s on fire this whole time.) We don’t see much of Bast in this story, as she takes her own mission to investigate Apophis.

We discover that the next day will be Sadie’s 13th birthday, and that she has plans to travel back to London and see her friends and grandparents. Meanwhile, it has only recently been sprung on the Kanes that if they do not wake the god Ra in five days, the world will end. Sadie, refusing to let this doomsday prediction ruin her special day, decides to go on her trip anyway. When she arrives the next day to her grandparents house, she instead finds two gods have possessed them, and are eager to crush her to death to stop her from being able to awaken Ra.  As she runs in a panic, she stumbles across her two friends, and manages to pull them after her as they escape. Sadie doesn’t have much time to explain, but her friends are quick to realize things are not okay when a giant baboon wearing her grandfathers clothes tries to kill them. Somehow, she ends up in a graveyard long enough to talk to (and be kissed by) the hottie god of death, Anubis. (His help will be vital later, but at this moment it was almost frustrating.)

The group manages to escape with the help of a short and lovable limo-driver (who is actually the god of dwarfs) Bes. Using his..ultra…speedo…powers….he awkwardly scares the gods out of Sadie’s grandparents. Meanwhile, Carter and Walt appear to save her (a little late) and Walt, Carter and Sadie pile back into the limo to make their escape. Walt’s character is another of Sadie’s love interests in this story, and we learn he and his ancestor, King Tut share a common problem. (As to what–I will not spoil it.) Walt is eventually booted from the car for this reason back to Brooklyn house, and Bes takes Carter and Sadie to Russia to find their next half of the scroll. (Shown to them in a dream vision! Ba powers activate!) Unfortunately, here enters the major villain in this novel, who resembles a mutilated ice-cream man.

They sneak into his palace, and discover that not only is he the House of Life’s second in command, but he is also on a first name basis with the God, Set, from the last novel. Sadie and Carter learn he is hoping to free Apophis, not stop him just before their invisibility spell wears off. They manage to snag the scroll and after more than a bit of snake trouble, escape.

Unlike the first novel, which focuses mainly on the Ba, or a person’s chicken-bodied personality that escapes when they dream–this novel focuses on the Ren, their name which is what their whole being essentially is. It’s a constant theme in this novel, and is used in multiple occasions. We see Sadie and Carter, finally feeling like siblings again and with Walt and Bes’s help in multiple occasions they go around collecting the Book of Ra and attempting to awaken the old God back to power. Meanwhile, they face personal and divine obstacles along the way.

I find myself checking Rick Riordan’s Facebook page in hopes of gleaning more information about his next novel in the series–but know that I have a long (painful) time to wait before I can find out what will happen next to the Kane siblings.

An epic adventure, not for the feint of Ren.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan Book Review

1 May

After having been burnt out on editorial and work-related reading–I haven’t been picking up as many novels as I usually do. Slammed under the pressure of a deadline, the Office having suddenly picked up from a grazing in the pasture pace to a canter down the track, and digging into the small crevices of my brain for my own novel has kept me fairly preoccupied. So, I even surprised myself where somewhere amongst all the chaos I managed to pick up Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid.

Mr Riordan’s name may sound familiar–mainly because of his last series that included The Lightning Thief, and followed the story of a young man who discovers himself to be a demi-God. Of course, the main character is not just any demi-god–he is son of Poseidon, the great god of the sea according to Greek mythology. That series kept with the Greek Gods and I found it to be a quick and decently satisfying read.

Rick Riordan's First Book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympian's series

You may also remember the title from Disney’s adaption of the book, also dubbed the Lightning Thief. But the movie, in my opinion, threw the whimsey and wonder that was contained within the pages of the novel–and threw them in the toilet in hopes of attracting an older age bracket to the film. (But that’s an entirely different review all together.)

His newest series, dubbed The Kane Chronicles, now features a whole new set of characters and a whole new range of mythology: Egyptian Gods.  The story is narrated by siblings, Sadie and Carter Kane, as if it has been translated from a tape recorder that they take turns with. The story opens with the reader being introduced to the elder brother, Carter and his father. The children’s father is an Egyptologist that travels around the world to further his studies–though his living habits seem more than a bit…odd. Carter describes his father as having being extra cautious throughout their travels together. The children’s mother, however, has passed away–for reasons you are told later. Sadie, the younger sister, is introduced secondly in the city of London. An odd arrangement between their father and grandparents has made it so Sadie can only see her father twice a year–once in the summer and once in the winter. Sadie has been essentially raised by her grandparents and she and Carter couldn’t possibly be more opposite. Sadie–blonde, blue-eyed and fair-skinned with a british accent rocking the punky look, and Carter the dark-skinned, dark-haired dressed to his best do not exactly mesh. And they’re very aware of it.

Their whole world gets turned upside down on this Christmas eve when their father takes them on a trip to the British museum. Suddenly, it seems their father is about to rob the museum. He enlists his children to stalk the curator (who has been nice enough to give them a private viewing of the ancient Egyptian artifact, the Rosetta stone.) and lock him in his office with a bike chain–which they do. But upon returning back to where their father is causing mischief (which they were expressly told not to do of course.) they discover it’s far more than a robbery. This story is woven with the careful pen of a magician–because it’s simply coated in magic and Egyptian fun facts. They quickly discover that their Father is actually an ancient Egyptian Magician, just in time to witness him trapped in a coffin by a demon-headed God, escaped from the now blown to smithereens, Rosetta stone. (Along with his four sibling Gods.)

Skipping ahead, the kids soon discover that their world isn’t as ordinary as it first seems. Magic is real–and so are the Ancient Egyptian Gods. In fact, one of them is their pet cat, Muffin. The kids embark on a journey to save their now entombed Father from the evil god, Set. Meanwhile, Set sends all sorts of baddies to stop them. And if that wasn’t enough, other magicians want to beat them up too. Why? Well, because they’re hosting ancient Gods of course!  Now if you’re saying, whoa, back up–it’s because this story can get a little kooky on the literary rules. Not just one baddie–multiple! Not just one god–Many! So, to sum it up–the Magicians in this story–or as they call themselves, The House of Life–think that the Gods are evil. As such, hosting them, would also be bad. So naturally, even though the kids didn’t exactly invite the Gods inside, so to speak–the only option must be to kill the kids.(right?)

Carter finds the god Horus has attached to him, while Sadie meets her inner Isis. Due to their extra strong pharaoh’s bloodline, the kids are literally tiny powerhouses for the Host-hungry Gods. Meanwhile, they are starting to follow an all too familiar pattern (for the Gods that is) as they go on the hunt for a way to stop Set from destroying the world as they know it. I’ll spare you the entire story–in the hopes that you may go out and (-gaspita!-) read  it. But I will assume you know that good things must happen, as book two of the Kane Chronicles is already out.

All and all, this was a quick read–and despite having been written for younger minds, it is anything but easy. The plot is complex (though if you have read his Percy Jackson series, it’s not too unpredictable.) the characters are lovable and humorous and the research is well done. I was actually impressed with the amount of knowledge about the Egyptian mythology this novel must have taken to write. So many Gods, so many rules, and all jam-packed into one page-turning adventure.

(Post script: I am not ashamed to admit that I have already started Book two of the Kane Chronicles, and within the week will probably have yet another review. 🙂 )

Until next time my lovely literates!

A must read for those who love their Mummies! 😄

Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

1 Mar

So, in spite of being somewhat stifled and inspiration-less on my trip to Marco Island–I did manage to get a fair amount of reading done. I had brought with me the third and final book in the Wicked Series–but never got around to finishing it. Instead, as I wandered the island with my younger sister one day, we came upon a bookstore called Sunshine Booksellers. Of course, I had to wander in to my sister’s great displeasure.

As I poked through some of the clearance fiction racks, and meandered meaninglessly through the locally made birthday cards–I spotted it. A bright yellow paperback, brand new and perched on the Best Seller’s rack as if it were awaiting my arrival. Eagerly, I made my purchase and spent the next three days pouring over Kathryn Stockett’s, The Help.

Now, I had already previously seen the movie. (And yes, I know. That goes entirely against the unwritten rules of books versus movies.) I hadn’t even realized (shamefully enough) that The Help was a novel until after the credits on the movie were rolling, and I was sniffling my way through a box of tissues.

Now, with the time and the means to read The Help, I buried myself in the folds of it’s new book smell and continue to be glad I did so. If I took nothing else away from this powerfully written read it’s this: Be true to what you feel is right, no matter the consequences.

The Help focuses on three main characters: Skeeter, Minny and the leading lady Aibileen. What I found most wonderful about this novel and the way in which it was written, was how distinct each voice is from one another. Though Stockett gives you the courtesy of labeling each section with who will be your guiding voice–she really didn’t have to. Aibileen has a distinctly written narration, reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn. Her narration is written  primarily phonetically, but not over done to the point of being offensive to the eye. Skeeter is written in a very standard sort of style, that is easy to follow, and easy to relate to. And Minny seems a wonderful combination of both, reflecting her straight-to-the point personality. I had little to no difficulty following each narrative as they smoothly transitioned from voice to voice and moment to moment.

The story draws the reader into the times of segregation in Jackson, Mississippi. Aibileen and Minny are both black maids working for white families, while Skeeter is a young white woman trying to land herself in a writing career. Skeeter had been raised by a black maid for much of her life, by a woman very similar in station to Aibileen and Minny. As if by fate, Skeeter is drawn to Aibileen for help with a cleaning article she manages to become hired for, for the local newspaper. However, this soon blossems into a much more dangerous friendship when Skeeter begins to ask questions not proper for the time. Such as, “Do you like being a maid?” Or” How do you feel about having your own bathroom?” and hoping for a serious answer.

With the help of Aibileen, Minny and later many other black maids, Skeeter begins crafting the most scandalous novel of her time. But, what they’re doing could get them fired–or worse, killed. You are lead very different paths with these three narrators and can experience multiple sides in this hard-to-put-down novel.

Aibileen’s story, I found, was especially heart-breaking. Living alone, she cares for white babies until they are no longer “color-blind.” Moving from job to job. Her own child suffered a terrible fate, and she constantly mourns him. We follow her in raising a little white girl called, Mae Mobley or Baby Girl. The bond between the two was enough to make me tear up on more than a few occasions, as you the reader watch her raise the little girl to try to be confident in herself in an otherwise cold-hearted household.

Minny’s story is full of children, but not white children. She has a considerable amount of her own, as well as an abusive husband. Minny is not compliant and soft-mannered as Aibileen, but outspoken and fiery. Her sarcastic narration was the source of many a laugh while reading this novel. She brings the light into the story, keeping it moving when the situation gets too heavy. Even when facing a terrible situation, such as her new boss suffering from an abortion while she is working, her narration proved somewhat humorous and always human.

Skeeter’s story is one of discovery. A college graduate; she dreams of becoming a writer. While the rest of her friends are already married and having children, Skeeter is working for the local magazine. Her mother, who is gravely ill, is constantly putting pressure on her to find a husband as is “proper” for a woman at the time. Skeeter begins the journey to discover who her parents really are as seen from others eyes,how the rest of the town sees her, what romance is and what it means to love and lose, and most importantly, what the relationship between The Help and their bosses are like.

I devoured this book is three days, and would find myself reading long into the night until my eyes stung. This novel was skillfully written, beautifully narrated and well-researched. I was on the edge of my seat, worried for these women while they worked on a novel that would reveal the horrors and beauty of the relationships between the Help and their bosses.The best and the worst. What was most moving to me, was that in spite of all the odds these women faced–they did not back down. A lesson, I think, anyone could take from.

Thank goodness for reading