The Jane Doe Novel Experiment

Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.

The Help – Pt 1 or “No one told me the author is caucasian”

Three days ago, I needed a new book to read. No one I  knew had any suggestions. What do I do? Skim the magazine stands for titles that stand out. First one, The Help. I skip over it. I recall it was made into a movie and I didn’t think it sounded interesting. Nothing else stands out. Back to, The Help. I exhale. It is a #1 bestseller.  My mom did say the movie was good. I frown, pick up the book and read the back cover. I put it back down. There is really nothing else here to get. I look over the book without touching it and see a review is on the cover:

“This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird…” – NPR.org

With an endorsement like that, how could I not? I buy the book. On the train ride home, I turn to page one reluctantly. By the end of chapter one, I’m totally wrapped up in the characters. Wow! She made me care about this person so deeply and I don’t even know where this journey is taking me.

Remember, I’m reading the book. I did not see the movie. The book is 522 pages not a 90-120 page script or 2 hour movie, so it goes at a different pace. I say this because when I told my co-worker about it, he looked at me like I was reading the wrong book. “The movie is told from the white girls perspective.” “Interesting!” I tell him. “Because it’s written in first person and Aibileen is telling the story. I don’t even know who Skeeter is yet.” (Turns out, the story is written from 3 points of views. Which I learn as I progress.)

Getting back on track, first thing I do after reading such an emotionally grabbing chapter one is flip to the back of the book to read about the author who can breathe so much life into a person with so few words.  And, there is a picture of a caucasian lady! Why my shock and my praise?!?! Talk about knowing your characters and making them believable!! There was no doubt in my mind from the first chapter that the author was African American. I took it has a given. I mean, I think someone, somewhere would have said a movie/book that is primary about two black women was written by a white girl. The depth of knowledge, the true feelings and circumstance, not relying on stereotypes…how could anyone write that who has not experienced it? My hat goes off to her because she did a wonderful job!

There is so much thought and concern put into each of these three women. Their thought process, their mannerisms, their speech patterns. And each is so believable. I am going to enjoy reading this. And I will keep you updated sporadically on my progress!

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2 comments on “The Help – Pt 1 or “No one told me the author is caucasian”

  1. Sarah
    June 19, 2012

    The Help is one of my favorite books. I liked the book better than the movie, but enjoyed the movie as well. I am white and my boyfriend is black and he thoroughly enjoyed the movie as well and thought it was done very honestly and true to the times. I am incredibly impressed by Kathryn Stockett and can’t wait for her to write some more!

    • Jane Doe
      June 19, 2012

      Sarah, I thought this was Facebook for a moment and I tried find the “Like” button for your comment. ^.^ Thank you for sharing. I love it as well and my family as more races in it than I can shake a stick at. Still, I would never be able to write with the understanding Kathryn Stockett did. I will see the movie AFTER I finish the book. ^.^

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