Monday, August 24, 2015

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

This review is doubling as a school assignment
Official Summary: Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town...

My Summary: The Help is a beautifully written, inspirational novel that follows three different women’s point of view during the Civil Rights era. Aibileen, a house maid raising her seventeenth white baby, Minny, also a maid, that is always running into trouble with her sassy comments, and Skeeter, a twenty two white woman who dreams only to become a writer.
As a child, Skeeter was practically raised by her house maid, Constantine. Though she left during her college years and she does not know the reason behind her disappearance, Skeeter has always held more respect for the Colored people than that of her friends. One day, Skeeter asks Aibileen if she ever wished she could change things. This question eventually led to the Help, a compilation of Black house maid’s experiences working for white families. It is a risky move, but Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny are all willing to risk it in order to get their views and experiences out into the world during one of the most monumental times in all of history.

Theme: While there are a lot of obvious themes, such as racial injustice and gender roles, what I most learned from The Help was that sometimes risks need to be taken for the greater good. And on a more personal level, that people have feelings and they need to be treated as such. Aibileen and Minny were putting a lot on the line by giving Skeeter their stories - at this time in history, colored people were being beat or even killed for miniscule mistakes such as accidentally walking into a Whites Only building. They were paid less than minimum wage, accused of carrying non existent diseases, and at times, treated like they were nothing more than scum. Yet they agreed to help Skeeter because they knew it could make a difference, a difference that had to be made.
But it wasn’t only dangerous for Aibileen and Minny, but for Skeeter as well. Being white, she was mostly protected from physical harm, but not so much social. While writing Help, Skeeter lost the majority of her friends and took a major fall on the social ladder. When the end of the book was being written, she knew that she was almost in as much trouble as her colored friends in the sense of being harassed and thrown into jail. But Skeeter wanted to do something for a better future just as much as Aibileen and Minny did.
A song that I thought closely related to The Help was Fight Song by Rachel Platten. ( because as the song says, Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny only had one match, but with it they could make an explosion. The song makes me think of looking for a better tomorrow for yourself and making it a reality, which is exactly what these three women did by committing to writing Help. It was risky, and it was nerve wracking, but they wanted to show that they still had fight left in them and they weren’t going to succumb to the Whites and their cruel, unjust treatment.

In the end, The Help was one of the most inspirational and rewarding books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The story was complex and beautiful, as were the characters. One of the most impressive aspects of this book for me was that though there were more main characters than I am used to reading, each character was very individual and distinct. The characters kept the suspense going until the very last minute, where I barely held myself back from crying. While not everything was resolved on the outside, all characters found their internal peace, and that was what made this book for me. Something they had been so reluctant to start had turned into their greatest achievement, and the thing that revived them and made them realize, I deserve better than this. They crossed a seemingly uncrossable line that eventually led to their own personal finish line. Or, to say it better, a new, better starting line.

If you have not read The Help, I greatly encourage you to do so. I give it a rating of five stars.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Vs. Movie: Paper Towns

***This post will contain spoilers of the book! Do not read if you have not yet read Paper Towns and still plan to***

There’s really no question about who is going to win the war waged between books and movies. The books, obviously! But nonetheless, I enjoy comparing them to one another. I do it in my head all the time, so I figured I might put it on paper as well! So without further delay, Paper Towns - Book Vs. Movie!

I picked up Paper Towns only about two weeks before the movie was coming out. I LOVED it, but it was definitely something that I saw as being more popular in book format than as a movie. Not that the story wasn’t amazing, but the biggest reason that I loved it was just because I love the way that John Green writes. Paper Towns had a ton of deeper, hidden meanings that I loved to discover, and the characters were so beautifully written. I basically went to that movie just for the characters!

For a based-off-the-book movie, Paper Towns did not bother me too often. I loved the way that they portrayed and kept real to the characters. Quentin was Quentin, Margo was Margo, Ben was Ben... so I applaud their work there.

But without fail, there was one flaw that bothered me throughout the entire course of the movie.

I personally felt like the most dramatic parts in the book were dimmed down considerably in the movie. In the book, Quentin and his friends ditch graduation in a last minute plan to go find Margo (a plan that Angela was NOT A PART OF), and the whole thing is an intense mad dash to Anglo New York that, if they did not succeed, they would not find Margo at all and would most likely lose her forever. The stakes were higher than missing hair appointments and getting ready for Prom. And remember when Quentin almost hit the cow and got himself killed? In the book, everything slowed down, he accepted his fate, and when they spun off the road he was bawling his eyes out. In the movie, he laughed it off and acted like he had NOT ALMOST DIED. And then they get out of the car and mess around, even though as I recall, they were rushing to find Margo! Because she was going to leave!

And then my biggest problem...

They didn’t give Quentin the opportunity to get mad at Margo!

At the end of the book, after Quentin had found Margo, she had been a jerk (once again) to him. In the movie, he just took it. In the book, he defended himself. And yeah I egged him on! The girl dragged him around during the last weeks of his whole high school experience! And when he found her? She wasn’t impressed or happy at all, instead deciding to tell him that she hadn’t meant to be found at all and to go home. All of his work had been for nothing. So yes, I loved when he stood up for himself to Margo. But in the movie? He still just stared at her like a lost puppy who just needed love.

Whyyy!!! I gained a lot of respect for Quentin at that point in the book! Because he finally said to her, you walked all over me. And I’m not okay with that.

I wasn’t the only one who thought this, either. My mom actually leaned over to me and asked me, “Why doesn’t he say something to her? She’s been nothing but a brat!” I couldn’t agree more. Which is why we should stick to the book, people.

Okay. In the end, I think that the director did do a good job. Movie adaptations are hard, and it’s especially hard to satisfy readers of the book. But the best word of advice that I could give to you about this one: you probably won’t enjoy the movie unless you have read the book as well. I have yet to have a friend who liked that movie without having read the book previously.

And if you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend. It is quite possibly my favorite book by John Green.

Stay tuned for more Book Vs. Movie posts! This was a really fun idea that I hope to do it again in the future. Happy reading!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Let's Talk Covers - Anna and the French Kiss

I have never been a fan of this cover. In fact, I pushed off reading it for about a year (even though my Goodreads insisted that I would love it) because I hated the look of it so much. But after manning up and picking it up from the library, Anna became my new favorite contemporary. My opinion of the cover, however, did not change.
First… how is it significant? All we see is a girl leaning over smiling at a boy’s arm, with the Eiffel tower in the background. My biggest problems would probably be…

  • That doesn’t look a lot like Anna. The way that the girl on the cover is acting is super Un- Annaish. She’s smiling all flirtatious and bubbly, but do we remember how she actually met St. Clair? Not so smooth. Also, he had a girlfriend and she respected that. She was completely cool with being friends. Not so sure what’s going on in the picture… I would accept it if he were smiling back, but he just looks disinterested.
  • Some of you may think that this is a ridiculous reason and I admit that it kind of is… but HIS ARM LOOKS SO GIRLY TO ME. It just doesn’t look right! Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. But seriously, I can’t get over it.
  • It just looks too simple and photoshopped, not at all as phenomenal as the book is. It would have been better it if were a bit more sophisticated. It just doesn’t properly capture what is inside of the book. WHICH IS AMAZINGNESS.

Now, let’s talk about this new cover…
I know I may be contradicting myself - well, no, I am - when I say that I love it for it’s simplicity. After all, up above I said that it looks too simple. But this is the right kind of simple. A gorgeous paris scene tinted pink, with the cover’s writing over top? I don’t have any problems with it. It may not be my favorite possible cover for the book, but I don’t have any real complaints. It has the right amount of sophistication, but still promises a cute and fluffy book.

And look at that gradient effect! Gorgeous!

So yes, in the end I am happy with the way that this cover change turned out. Good job to the people who designed this new cover, whoever you are! I absolutely adore it!