Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Help: Kind, smart, important

(Release Date: August 10, 2011)
The Help: Kind, smart, important

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"You is kind, you is smart, you is important" is a message that the soft-spoken and hard-working black maid Aibileen (Viola Davis) repeatedly instills in two-year-old Mae Mobley, her latest charge in the white family she is tending after. This line perfectly sums up the film as well. Adapted from Kathryn Stockett's New York Times bestselling novel of the same name, the film version has managed to stay true to the book. Indeed, this movie, and the book it originated from, is a kind, smart and important tribute to the civil rights movement.

It's 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi and segregation of whites and blacks is still in effect. A black maid working for a well-to-do white family was the norm, and their "work" included raising the children straight from birth through to their adolescent years.

Emma Stone (Easy A) is Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a Southern belle who's never really felt a part of the high society crowd she was born and raised into. Her single status and aspirations to become a serious journalist are just two of the oddities that make her stand out from her married-with-kids peers. The other two central characters are black maids played magnificently by Davis (Doubt) in the role of quiet and does-as-she's-told Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as the sharp-tongued Minny.

The premise of the film lies in Skeeter’s idea to write a book based on the experiences of the black maids who, for all intents and purposes, raised most of the white children in the community. Aibileen and Minny get on board with Skeeter's project, agreeing to tell their stories anonymously. The risks involved, however, are grave in 1960s Mississippi where speaking on this subject would most certainly mean being imprisoned and perhaps even murdered.

Although Aibileen keeps silent around her employer and her employer's high society friends, she doesn't hold back in recounting her life as a maid to Skeeter. The same goes for Minny, and eventually the other maids find the courage to also tell their stories.

Once the anonymously penned 'The Help' hits the book shelves, we find ourselves cheering as Jackson's upper-crust society is exposed for their nasty and cruel treatment towards the domestic help.

Another notable mention is the performance given by Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of acclaimed director and former "Happy Days" actor Ron Howard) as Hilly Holbrook, the Southern belle-slash-bigot the audience will love to hate.

The film also has many humorous scenes, many of them involving Sissy Spacek in the role of Mrs. Walters (Hilly's mother), Jessica Chastain as the innocent and likeable beauty Celia Foote who happened to marry rich, and of course, the sassy Spencer in her role as Minny.

Though neither the film nor the book are groundbreaking in their portrayal of the civil rights era, it cannot be denied that this is a story that will touch the hearts and minds of moviegoers.

Check out Kathryn Stockett reading an excerpt from The Help, as well as discussing the book here:

CCG Giveaway Alert!*

Want to win a copy of the book? Find out what we thought of Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel The Help, and how you can win your very own copy!
Civil Writes Movement 
It's hard to believe, but author Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejection letters before she came across a publisher who would publish The Help. Her book is now a #1 New York Times bestseller and it's clear to anyone who reads it why this is the case.

Set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, during the civil rights movement era, Stockett has created three unforgettable female characters who come together to work on a secret writing project. 
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has an idea for a book—to write about what life is really like for the black maids that serve and raise the children of the well-to-do white families of Jackson.

Skeeter manages to convince Aibileen and Minny, the former a soft-spoken maid and the latter a sassy-tongued one, to tell their stories, which eventually get published into an anonymously-written book but gets Southern belle and racist ringleader Hilly Holbrook up in arms as she's figured out that the book is about Jackson and its co-habitants.   

Narrated by Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny, Stockett has done an adept job at creating three distinct voices with three very different points of view of what life was like during this important historical era.

A true page-turner, you won't want to put this book down. Though it may be fiction, it isn't hard to imagine that the emotions articulated by these characters were most certainly felt by people living in that time. The Help is a story that will stay with you long after you've finished reading it.

$18.50 (paperback) at

CCG Giveaway Alert!*
Hey CCG Fans, we're giving five lucky readers each a copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockett. All you have to do is: 

"Like" the Canadian Career Gal Facebook page and tell us on our Wall what's your all-time favourite movie that was adapted from a book.


2) "Like"
the Canadian Career Gal post of 'The Help' book review on the official Penguin Group (Canada) Facebook page


You'll then be automatically entered into a random draw for a chance to win one of five copies of The Help
To be eligible for the draw, be sure to post your answer on the Canadian Career Gal Facebook page and "Like" the post we added to the Penguin Group (Canada) Facebook page by Wednesday, August 17th at 8PM (EST). Winners will be announced on our Facebook page, as well as right here on the official CCG site so check back with us after the contest closing time to see if you won. Good luck!

*Rules & Regulations:
No purchase necessary. One entry per person per household. We reserve the right to cancel this contest at any time.


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