A Long Way from Mississippi

the-helpI wish to thank whoever it was among my blogger friends who recommended The Help one fine day (although I think I remember). I ordered it from the library and forgot about it to the extent that at first I didn’t recognize it when it came in. A brief light of recognition flickered almost right away, but it was indeed a flicker let me tell ya.

Very briefly, it’s set in Mississippi in the early sixties and deals with race relations in that place and time. The plot has a young white woman deciding to write a book from the point of view of coloured women (coloured being the term of the day) who worked as domestics for white women. It’s a neat way to turn the plot because that is what the author is, herself, doing: being a white women writing (largely) about black domestic help. The difference is that Stockett’s novel is fictional and not one based on factual interviews as is the book that the protagonist, Eugenia, desires to write within The Help.

It was quite a page-turner for me and took me back to those days of segregation and peace marches of the early sixties. We’ve all read these kinds of novels before, In the Heat of the Night, for example, or perhaps we haven’t. Or perhaps it has been so long that it’s appropriate to be reminded of what it was like in the deep south not so very long ago, even if the memories can be a bit disturbing. It’s disturbing to me to think that’s what it was like within my lifetime. That being said, rest assured, that it is not a bleak and gloomy book.

As a young Canadian teen, I quite remember seeing Selma and Little Rock and Martin Luther King and peace marches in the news. But I was young and far away, and could only understand some of what it was all about. In point of fact, I’m sure that, even now, I can still only understand some of the situation. But I am grateful to now understand a little more due to this very rivetting first novel by Kathryn Stockett. I think, like the great wars and the holocaust, the days of Jim Crow should not be easily set aside and forgotten.

But it was a long time ago, and the times they have a’changed — with much a’changin yet to go, I imagine. Read the book. It’s a good ‘un. It’s the kind of book that you keep turning over in your head when you put it down — which is hard to do, by the way. And you’ll be prepared for the movie that’s due to come out in August.

While it’s not particularly relevant to you, I kept thinking about who I was back in the day. For what it’s worth, here I am — or was — in 1962. I am fondly touching our first car, a 1958 Pontiac, and eager to get behind the wheel. But that would have to wait until my sixteenth birthday, still almost a year off.

AC

As you can tell from my attire, I was a long way from Mississippi and the coloured maids and the segregated society of The Help.

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12 Responses to A Long Way from Mississippi

  1. Diana says:

    Although it sounds like it may be a good read, I got tired of hearing about all of that stuff from the sixties. Lets move on! Love your photo, you looked “Cool”!!!
    Love Di ♥

  2. I did a post about it several months ago…LOVED IT!!! I could Not put it down and cursed the clock until I could get it finished!Hahaaa….SO glad you liked it!
    Several of my girlfriends had “Help” who came in to do “the duties” and remember well many of the things described in the book as being truth. Our family didn’t have the extra funds necessary to allow for the luxury nor would my Mom have gone for it. She raised her Own kids and cleaned her own home.
    There have been Many changes here in the South but Many more are needed.
    Hope you’re staying warm up there Ac!
    hughugs

  3. Ruth says:

    This was one of the best books I read last year. I bought it as there were so many holds and the library and it is now making family rounds. The effects of events in the 60’s are still felt today and we don’t understand our present without understanding our past. And racism is still very much alive and destructive.
    The cars of the 60s were huge!

  4. judy says:

    I LOVED this book!
    I’m looking forward to the movie.
    This is one I will ‘push’ on anyone who will listen!

  5. Thanks for the book recommendation, AC, I’ll keep a lookout at the local library for a future read. Getting through Alexander McCall SMith’s series No. 1 ladies Detective Agency with 2 more books to go.

  6. I loved this book too. Grew up in my grandparents home in just the same situation. With us our beloved “help” would take us with her to her house and we would dance and all her friends would come by and we had a ball. Of course THEY didn’t know we did that. I have never been biased. However during WWII I did not care for those J-ps. Oh I hate that word just because it sounds like a dirty word. What did I know, I just heard the word from the adults. I don’t even like to type it. Things are not really much better.
    QMM

  7. Doris says:

    Thanks for the photo. This is how I remember you from the past!

  8. Hilary says:

    Sounds like a book I’d like to read. I recently finished reading The Book of Negroes (also titled Someone Knows My Name outside of Canada) which goes back some 200+ years earlier than the 1960s time line. It’s very well written by Lawrence Hill.

  9. Bernie says:

    Hi AC, I know I would love this book. I remember so many of these historical moments, I also remember my father not believing the series “Roots” he said no one would treat people that way….denial big time. Yes we have come a long way but in my heart I know we still have such a long way to go. We should never forget our past, if we do we will repeat it. I am going to order this through my library in the morning…….:-)Hugs

  10. Mara says:

    This sounds like a book I would like, but it will have to put on hold for a while. I love the books by Fannie Flagg as well. She is a Southern writer and actress whose most famous book is probably ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café’. Yes, it was turned into a film and I love them both. She writes a lot about the South from as early as the 40’s I believe. I think I might have to read one of her books again soon!

  11. Col says:

    This book sounds like a good one… I will keep it in mind. For the most part people’s attitudes have greatly improved over the past 40 years. It gives me hope for the future and for the times that are grandkids will see. I have to hope that others with a similar heart to Martin Luther King will be experienced.

  12. Melodee says:

    Great book and great photo!

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