Momania Book Club: Do we want to read, discuss ‘The Help’?

We have had a request from one of our readers to discuss “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett.

I have heard it is a very good book, but I have not read it. I wanted to see if we all wanted to grab a copy and reconvene to discuss in about three weeks on Sept. 28. (It might be pre-empted if news breaks but we can aim for that date.)

Here is a quick summary from The Washington Post (from Amazon.com’s site):

“Newly graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in English but neither an engagement ring nor a steady boyfriend, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan returns to her parents’ cotton farm in Jackson. Although it’s 1962, during the early years of the civil rights movement, she is largely unaware of the tensions gathering around her town.”

“Skeeter is in some ways an outsider. Her friends, bridge partners and fellow members of the Junior League are married. Most subscribe to the racist attitudes of the era, mistreating and despising the black maids whom they count on to raise their children. Skeeter is not racist, but she is naive and unwittingly patronizing. When her best friend makes a political issue of not allowing the “help” to use the toilets in their employers’ houses, she decides to write a book in which the community’s maids — their names disguised — talk about their experiences.”

“Fear of discovery and retribution at first keep the maids from complying, but a stalwart woman named Aibileen, who has raised and nurtured 17 white children, and her friend Minny, who keeps losing jobs because she talks back when insulted and abused, sign on with Skeeter’s risky project, and eventually 10 others follow.”

“Aibileen and Minny share the narration with Skeeter, and one of Stockett’s accomplishments is reproducing African American vernacular and racy humor without resorting to stilted dialogue. She unsparingly delineates the conditions of black servitude a century after the Civil War.”

If you’ve already read it, you’re ahead of the game. Just remember to show back up to the blog on Sept. 28 to help discuss.

Should we put it to a vote or just plan on doing it?

Are there other books related to parenting, motherhood, kids, marriage, sex life or just life that you guys would like to suggest we read? We can set up a schedule. It would be good for us! (I always choose spy novels, biographies and historical novels about World II. Michael hates my book choices!)

69 comments Add your comment

Cammi317

September 10th, 2010
6:22 am

I have heard a LOT about this book. My bosses’ book club read it early this year/late last year and she could not stop talking about it. She grew up in MS the first few years of her life, with a nanny, but her parents are “free spirits” so the nanny was like family. Her mom could go on for hours about life in MS and how she hated it. Once they (the family) moved, she vowed to never live there again. It was my intention to read it anyway, so I am in.

Jeff

September 10th, 2010
6:23 am

I plan on either being sick that day or being at the movies. LOL.

Wow, just wow...

September 10th, 2010
6:46 am

…this blog has deteriorated into a “Book club”? I know, I know “You (meaning me) come up with a topic 5 days a week – yada, yada, yada…”

As others before me have asked – what does this book have to do with ‘momania’?

PHR

September 10th, 2010
6:54 am

It’s in the backseat of my car right now waiting for me to read. How convenient. I’m game.

Photius

September 10th, 2010
8:06 am

It sounds lovely, but not for me – thank you. I like reading history. With so much rich history in the Civil Rights movement, why would I want to read fiction? Ta Ta For Now…

Mrs. G

September 10th, 2010
8:08 am

I would love to read and discuss it…my book choices of late have been limited to those written by Danielle Steel (AKA easy reads).

Becky

September 10th, 2010
8:13 am

Theresa..Read this book about 6 months ago…LOVED it..I laughed, I cried and I learned..It really, really gave me food for thought…This book was so good that it only took me 1 1/2 days to read it..

Can’t wait for the dicussion with others about it..

JJ

September 10th, 2010
8:20 am

I think it’s a great idea. We should do this about once every two months. I myself have TONS of projects scheduled around the house for the next two months, so I don’t know if I will participate, but I do like the idea.

Lady Strange

September 10th, 2010
8:21 am

Yeah… I’ll be sitting this one out too. I prefer to read horror, fantasy or sci-fi myself. I don’t see how this book relates to “momania” either.

SuwaneeMommy

September 10th, 2010
8:51 am

Please NO book clubs! Especially here. There are plenty of book clubs out there if people want to discuss what they’ve been reading.

I did read this book. I am in the small minority of people who did not like it. I found it tedious and patronizing overall, although some of the characters were interesting.

JATL

September 10th, 2010
8:52 am

I read it last year and loved it! I would love to discuss it. @Photius -actually it’s a great piece of historical fiction. I grew up in a small southern town here in GA in the early 70s, and it’s amazing to me how much it still related to my early years. It’s a wonderfully realistic picture into how life really was for both these black and white women during the early 60s -and really the first half of the 20th century.

Kathy

September 10th, 2010
9:11 am

OMG…..LOVED LOVED LOVED this book!!! I keep a book journal ( I read about 10 a month) so if anyone needs any good suggestions let me know!

motherjanegoose

September 10th, 2010
9:18 am

I’m in. I read a book nearly every week. If the books you suggest are not my type, I will just skip and y’all have fun. We discuss lots of things here and so I do not find discussing ANY book to be silly. I rarely go to the movies, so if you discuss a movie I will not be on board but THAT IS FINE. T….if you have enought takers …you should go for it, It is a topic FOR ONE DAY.

Sometimes we do have topics FOR ONE DAY that are not really MOM related. I am largely on the road for the next 6 weeks but I will try to find the book and read it.

@ Photius…I RARELY read history and love fiction. Kinda like those who like the beach but not the historical cities ( I like both) to me. Variety makes the world go ’round. Kathy got me into Jody Piccoult’s books and I have read all but one. I never saw the movie My Sister’s Keeper but I read the book. I really enjoyed them all. To each his own on what to read.

f

September 10th, 2010
9:28 am

Read the book and loved it. Many women in the book were MOTHERS, which makes it relevant to momania. Every AMERICAN should read this book.

JJ

September 10th, 2010
9:30 am

MJG – Did you read “19 Minutes”? I think every parent of a teenager needs to read that one. It really made me take a good hard look at my daughter…….

I’ve been enjoying Lori Unger lately. I’ve read three of her books. But I don’t read as much as I should, I keep myself busy with projects.

With all due respect, f...

September 10th, 2010
9:32 am

…that is quite a stretch that, since some of the characters in the book were ‘MOTHERS’, that makes it germane to this blog…

Spacey

September 10th, 2010
9:42 am

I love this idea and I miss reading… My question is, when do you find time to sit down and read?
Maybe it is because I have an almost 2 year old and a 3 month old, but I can barely find time to talk to my husband!

Here’s my day…
530AM – Wake Up
7AM – Start work
4PM – Get off of work
430PM – Pick up the boys
5PM – Hang out with the kids
6PM – Make and eat dinner
7PM – Hang out with the kids, take baths, get ready for bed.
8PM – Kids asleep.
9PM – Clean up the kitchen/house/make lunch for the next day, etc…
Asleep by 10 and do it again.

My husband works on the weekend so it is just myself and the kids – we mostly play and run errands. I try not to spend time cleaning on the weekends when I can hang out with the kids instead.

Believe me please, I am not complaining and I don’t want to debate work vs stay-at-home. I love my job, it is meaningful to me and I would not be happy at home all day.

Does it get better as the kids get older? Is that how you have more time to read and just be by yourself ever? I feel like there is always someone with me except for driving back and forth to work. Sometimes I just stand outside the house to be alone.
I don’t mean to complain because I love my life and love my job. Thought some of you might have some insight…

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 10th, 2010
9:44 am

the only way it is germane to the blog is that one of you guys asked if we could read it. I’m just trying to honor requests of our readers when possible.

fred

September 10th, 2010
9:45 am

f, why limit the book to AMERICANS, why not BRITISH or SWEDISH or GUATEMALAN? and why the CAPS? Good books are good books and transcend national borders. I am no American or mother but will still read it.

motherjanegoose

September 10th, 2010
9:47 am

JJ…yes, that was good. I will try out the author you recommended too. I cannot get too many projects done on the airplane, as the space is limited…LOL. I have things to sort AT HOME but I am in Texas now.

The outside/ inside paint and kitchen update was enough for me! I am waiting on the curtains and then the granite ( any tips for that, as I am pricing now…wow…that is a project with a big margin difference). I will get a new sink, light fixtures and door pulls…then it will be finished.

JJ… I also like Lisa Scottoline. Trying out new authors, to me, is like trying out new foods…you may or may not like them but how will you know if you do not try?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 10th, 2010
9:49 am

Spacey — It will get better as they get older. The kids will go and play by themselves and you can have a few quiet moments to yourself. (Not a lot of time, but more time than you are getting now.) When mine were small I used to read while they nursed and read while this big kids had lunch. The ages really do make a difference, plus you are working. I could sneak some reading in during nap time that you can’t do unless your boss is really nice!

I was talking to a mom the other day about day trips and was asking her if she had been to a couple of different places. She said no to every one and then we realized it was because all of her kids were under 5. It does make a difference. It will get easier.

When the kids come home from school, Lilina wants to play with them so much. She is very occupied by them so then I can clean up, start dinner or just sit for a few mins.

Spacey — when I try to read at night I just fall asleep on the first page. I never get very far if I’m in bed. Too tired!!

motherjanegoose

September 10th, 2010
9:54 am

@ Spacey…my hat is off to you and if I could, I would come over to give you a breather. I am outta’ town until November.

YES it does eventually get easier but different. Mine are now both in college and it is hard to believe. Enjoy your precious children while you can. There will always be books to read.

I actually stood in my shower and cried because I was so tired,,,that was 18 years ago. I had mine 5 years apart and cannot imagine having 2 that close.

Yes, you will have time to yourself again! You sound like you need BREATHER. Do you live in the metro area?

JATL

September 10th, 2010
9:55 am

@f -that’s correct! Actually @with all due respect, f… -one of the biggest themes and one of the subcurrents of the novel strongly relate to motherhood and how some mothers pawn off their responsibility and treat their children. Another theme in the novel involves the main character’s relationship with her mother, something that mother does and how that and illness deeply affect the mother-daughter relationship. It was a thread of the novel I deeply related to. The book doesn’t just contain mothers -motherhood is a central theme as well as the question -what really makes a mother? We should all know by now it’s not just giving birth.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 10th, 2010
9:56 am

JATL _- I’m glad you guys know — I haven’t read it yet so to me it’s just because you guys asked! thanks for those answers guys!!

JATL

September 10th, 2010
9:57 am

@Spacey -I also have two small ones very close in age. I only get to read in bed at night before I fall asleep. More than half the time I fall asleep first! I used to read one or two novels/books per week, and now I get through maybe one a month. It will get easier as they get older! At least that’s what I keep hearing and hope is true! I’m actually going to a hotel by myself before I go bonkers in a few weekends, and I plan to hole up and read, read, read!

JJ

September 10th, 2010
10:14 am

Spacey – enjoy this time while the kids are young. You will never get this time back. So you don’t have time to read right now. That’s OK, you have bigger priorities right now……

Hint – I usually have a book in the bathroom.

Spacey

September 10th, 2010
10:21 am

@MDJ… I love my weekends with the boys. Would never trade them just to read a novel. It surprised me to see so many that had time to read!
I can relate to your crying. One morning last week I had to use ice cubes just go get the puffiness out of my eyes and go to work.
I’m in the metro area. I get some help from my Father on Sundays and sometimes my Mother-in-law on Saturdays.
They help so I’m not trying to hold both of them at the same time. :)
@Theresa – I love this age, but I’m excited to go and do more. We are slaves to the afternoon naps. Must get it all done before 1pm.

Becky

September 10th, 2010
10:22 am

@Spacey..It does get a little easier as they get older..But as MJG said, enjoy them now while they are litte, because one day you are gonna wake up and they will be teenagers and you will be wondering, when did this happen..

Just got some good news that I wanted to share with y’all..Have a niece that lives in TX..

1..Her husband was promoted to V.P. of The Matress Firm Co.
2..They are expecting their second baby in March..We will find out the sex of the baby when it is born..

Valstake

September 10th, 2010
10:27 am

I’ll not be joining y’all on the 28th; I’m not into historical fiction for the most part. But enjoy yourselves.

Spacey

September 10th, 2010
10:30 am

@JJ – That’s what I’m talking about! Thanks for the tip.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 10th, 2010
10:41 am

the bathroom is the only place you can be alone — and sometimes not even there!!

Now I’ve got to get the book!

JJ

September 10th, 2010
10:45 am

Becky – That is awesome news!!!!! YEAH!!

So I guess your niece won’t be having a sex party huh? LOL…..

Kat

September 10th, 2010
10:46 am

It doesn’t sound like the type of book for me, but I applaud all efforts to expand one’s horizons via reading. People who don’t wish to read do not have to participate in that day’s blog. Hear that people? If you don’t read the book, don’t post to the blog that day! Thanks! :-)

motherjanegoose

September 10th, 2010
10:52 am

Yoo Hoo Becky! Congrats!

@ T…yes, when I am in my jacuzzi tub and forget to close the door, our little schnauzer comes in to see me…she is a mess.

Becky

September 10th, 2010
10:53 am

@JJ..Thanks..No, don’t guess they will..They won’t even dicuss names that they talk about until the baby is born and named at the hospital..I have noticed that most of their friends have babies that were given the Mothers maiden name as their middle name..I do know that I won’t have to worry about that with my niece since her maiden name is Horwatt.:)

Like others, I enjoy reading and always try to make time for it..I don’t stick to one author, I just find a book that I think will be good and buy it..So, am looking forward to hearing what others have to say about this book..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 10th, 2010
10:57 am

Guys — I’ve got to run 2 errands but I will probably post a second topic for this afternoon — I’ve got two to choose from — thinking on it — so check back in later (not sure on time yet sorry!)

penguinmom

September 10th, 2010
11:03 am

@JJ, you beat me to it. I was going to suggest reading in the bathroom. I know some people don’t but I would never nearly as much read if I didn’t keep a book there.

I will probably pass on this book. It sounds somewhat interesting but not quite enough to make it into my schedule.

Becky

September 10th, 2010
11:25 am

@penguinmum…The price ($1.00) of the hardback version of this book is what made me even look at it..I only buy books from the thrift store or a yard sale and I usually won’t pay more than $1.50 for a book…

DB

September 10th, 2010
11:33 am

FYI, Costco has the book now, if anyone is interested. I almost picked it up last night, but chose another book instead, but I’ve been eyeing it for a while. My life has been so hectic the last couple of months, the only reading I’ve been doing is on airplanes, and I’m generally so tired I end up falling asleep after three pages! That’s unusual for me — up until this summer, I was usually reading at least two books a week. So I’ll run by and pick it up next week.

I keep thinking of echoes of “Corrina, Corrina” . . . or “The Long Walk Home”.

TechMom

September 10th, 2010
11:43 am

In the office today and just finding a minute to check the blog. This was a good book and did give plenty of insight into history. Sure it’s fiction but much of what happened was not and it gives a good perspective on what it was like in the south as a maid/nanny. We read the book for my neighborhood book club and I’ve passed it on to a couple of other friends since and everyone has enjoyed it. It was a bit slow to begin with (actually the first 2/3 were slow IMO) but it was good nonetheless.

JATL

September 10th, 2010
11:43 am

@Spacey -perhaps if you or MJG had the year I’ve had you would gladly hole up in a hotel room with no children to read! I enjoy my children greatly and spend every weekend with them, but I don’t get this implied idea that if we actually want a day or two completely to ourselves that we’re somehow not truly enjoying our small children. Mine are growing up all too fast, but I do need some time to myself once in awhile -and that means time away from my husband too. Most of the parents I know feel the same way.

SRH

September 10th, 2010
11:57 am

I also am in the small minority that did not care much for this book. I found it patronizing as well, as insulting to black people. All of the stereotypes are here: sassy black momma, heart-of-gold types, prideful types, white woman wants to save the world, etc.

JJ

September 10th, 2010
11:59 am

JATL – I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t take time away from their kids. Matter of fact, I’m going to St. Simons Island next week with about 19 other moms who are looking to get away from “life” for 4 days, and act like fools.

If we don’t take care of ourselves, how are we gonna take care of others? Too many women play the “martyr” card, and try to do it all. You cannot be 100% at everything.

cc

September 10th, 2010
11:59 am

Great read! I would suggest it for anyone.

a mom

September 10th, 2010
12:01 pm

I didn’t sleep that much usually only about 5 1/2 hours so I could read when the kids were little. I also used my lunch time for reading. Even now with one still at home, I read on the treadmill, at lunch and usually at night for about an hour. I will admit that I read very fast and therefore I can read a paperback in about 3-4 hours.

motherjanegoose

September 10th, 2010
12:03 pm

JATL…I must have missed something. I think it is wonderful for anyone to take a few days for themself. I never had the option as my own mother, when she was my age of 50, told me she was really too old to have her grandchildren stay with her. HELLO…I am on the floor all day with kids and they are not even related.

We really had no one to watch our kids, for a few days. I was thinking that if Spacey were near me, I could swing by and give her an hour or two alone. Then again, would she trust me? LOL

I do remember my teaching assistant driving me to her house and telling me to TAKE A NAP.
She took my kids for a few hours after school. HEAVEN

catlady

September 10th, 2010
12:06 pm

My mom, a middle class woman in the early 50s, had a black woman who came in to help with the housework and me until she “recovered”–3 years later! I think it would be most interesting for women of my generation to read, and I plan to do it.

Spacey

September 10th, 2010
12:07 pm

@JATL – I did not mean to insinuate that I thought it was bad to take time for yourself at anytime – good year or bad year. I hope things get better for you and you get some rest.
I was just wondering how to squeeze a little “me” time into my days. The days can get blurry and fast sometimes. I just need to take a breath and relax for a minute.
Perhaps I should get a sitter and repaint my bathroom since it seems I’ll be spending a lot of time in there :)
Side note: I love to paint a room. I’d change the color of the house every year if I could! It is mind-numbing and relaxing to me. Strange?

motherjanegoose

September 10th, 2010
12:10 pm

Spacey…gee whiz…I wish I would have known that, now that I hired someone to paint me kitchen, We could have swapped…me with your kids and you in my kitchen…LOL!

JATL

September 10th, 2010
12:16 pm

@Spacey -not it’s not strange. Painting is a zen activity. I love to pressure wash things and cut grass for the same reason.

@MJG -now that my mother is dead, my husband gets to keep the kids all weekend a few times a year! I do it for him too -he has two guys’ weekends he goes on every year.