Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Help

I read The Help a few days ago, but I wanted to see the movie before I posted in order to compare and contrast. However, I don't know when I'm going to be able to see the movie, and I thought I should post before I forget all the details from the book.
I wanted to read this book long before the movie, but as with everything, movies always seem to deepen the urge to actually read it. And I am one of those people who likes to read the book first then see the movie simply because I am a hard critic. Oh yes, I am that annoying person sitting in the theater going "nope, that is NOT what he looks like", "Oh my god they are changing her personality", and my favorite: "they skipped an entire scene! Those assholes!" Ok, I completely understand that Hollywood needs to spruce things up, change a few scenes, and possibly cut characters or themes as they see fit. I am not knocking Hollywood, I just always tend to like the books better, so I put up a fit. Is that such a bad thing? :)
The Help is centered around Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960s. Eugenia Phelan (Skeeter) has recently graduated from Ole Miss. As her friends have found solitude in their bridge clubs, benefit dinners, and spending their husbands' money, Skeeter hopes that one day she will become a journalist. She wishes to write something that people will want to read. And watching the discrimination throughout town does not leave a good feeling in Skeeter's mind. People are people, so why treat black maids like garbage? That is when Skeeter discovers what she will write about. With the help of two very brave black maids, Aibileen and Minny, Skeeter starts to write a novel about the good, the bad, and the ugly encounters of being a black maid in Mississippi. The book could prove to be the best piece of controversial literature of the time, but if the three women are discovered, it could bring very serious consequences.
It was very refreshing. It was great to have a book to challenge the norms of society. Plus it was really nice to have three people's perspectives. Some say To Kill a Mockingbird is only from a white point of view, so how accurate of the times can it be? The fact that Kathryn Stockett put in three different perspectives, two if which were black, made the reader able to see the town from all sides. Plus the two black maids have such different personalities and their lifestyles are opposite, so it was nice to hear each of the characters come to life. I would rule this a completely feel good book. I laughed out loud during certain chapters, I was almost in tears along with the characters, and I found myself jumping into the main characters' minds and thinking as they would. I was always rooting for the change, and I thought how brave it was for these three to step up and start this form of unity.
I loved this book because it also taught about change. Good or bad change is always going to come, but you move forward no matter the situation. You can't turn back. All three of these characters are very strong women, and even though all three have their hardships, all of them move on. Because I have been going through a rough patch in my life, it was nice to have a book show me that life doesn't always have a happy cloud hovering. Sometimes you need to seek out that silver lining. These three women in the story all had to physically and emotionally discover the good beneath a heap of bad. It was reassuring to recognize that although bad change may be happening, as long as you move forward only good can happen from there.
It was a wonderful book that I highly recommend. And for once, it's not a young adult book! Yay for me. Read this book. It helped me get a little of myself back, perhaps it can be that way for others too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Heaven and Hell

The emerging fade of angels on earth seemly has run its course. Or has it? Halo was introduced last spring after fellow super heroes stumbled upon the young author's signing table. Alexandra Adornetto was seventeen when she published Halo last fall. Her book seemed to have begun the angel craze for me. I hadn't realized Fallen by Lauren Kate was out for a year prior to Adornetto's first book. I guess one can say she stole the idea, but I believe Adornetto's story was the more enjoyable one. I found Kate was falling, no pun intended, into an idea of past centuries and constant lost loves. Plus when picking up the sequel I was immediately confused, bored, and I had no desire to read any further. Not worth my time, and definitely not worth an entire post to explain how I didn't care for it. Halo, however, intrigued me because of how playful it was.
Bethany Church is an angel, along with her older siblings, Gabriel and Ivy. All three are sent on a mission from the ruler above to bring peace and hope to the community of Venus Cove. It appears evil is lingering and these three need to keep their focus in order to help restore faith. Bethany's immaturity and her compassion for human life puts her right in front of Xavier, gorgeous boy in her class who all the girls want, but can't reach. After his girlfriend was killed in a fire, Xavier's faith is nonexistent, until he begins to see Beth. Their love appears magical. So much, in fact, that Beth decides to reveal herself to Xavier in her true angel form, wings and all. Now that a mortal is aware of their secret, Gabriel and Ivy must figure out their next step and fast because evil appears to be approaching faster than they we anticipating.
The sequel, Hades, picked up a few months later. This one took you to the depths of Hell where Beth is held captive. Not only are her family despretely trying to find a way to get her out, but one of the original eight fallen angels is intent on keeping her in. The more she stays the more Beth misses home, but will they find a way to her before it's too late?
The books include an incredible romance between Xavier and Beth, which never ceased to take the reader's breath away. But the romance had a very sweet way of restoring lost faith. There are definitely times in the writing when you can tell the author is a young teenager. Some things happen a little too conveniently, and the romance is the focal point of the story. However, the concept of a good vs. evil was very fun to follow. And I could tell the author is extremely religious. But not in a Touched by an Angel lame way. She references characters from the bible, makes them real and almost human. It was definitely a journey that had a great built up to the end of the novel. It was a shame that the battle scenes weren't longer. I am hoping the last book has an epic battle scene because the books have been leading up to some sort of uprising.
People can say the books are too teenager, but they are books that have a feel good theme. Yes, I agree Bethany can be a whiny brat who gives into peer pressure too easily, but I feel her character is supposed to be naive and wimpy for lack of a better word. Call me a push over, but I tend to always fall more deeply into a romance when the guys are so devoted to the girl. I am a sucker for fairy tales, and the love Beth and Xavier share is simply that. Too good to be true. But it is always nice to have that protective boy character. In my opinion anyway. :)
Obviously, the endings to both novels are pretty predictable, but it was still a nice romance that had an interesting theme. Good vs evil is always a great battle, especially when angels are involved; both fallen and those still following the good word. I don't have extremely high expectations for the third and final book, but I am expecting an apocalyptic showdown between the two sides. Hopefully Adornetto focuses more on the battle and less on the romance. It would make for a better ending. Maybe a death? Who are we kidding, the ending's going to bust out. But we can hope right? And look! The covers are sooooooo pretty! ;)