Category: The Help

What every child needs to hear

A few months before Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel The Help came out, I was at my favorite indie bookstore, Warwicks, and they were abuzz about an advance reading copy they had of this new book by a new voice. You will love it, they told me. And she’s coming here when the book releases!

When your favorite indie bookstore is that excited about a new book, you listen! I went to hear Kathryn Stockett speak at Warwicks in 2009 before I had even read the book. She charmed and wooed us, the throngs of us packed inside the book store. I bought her book, she signed it to me, and I sent home and devoured it. It was my favorite read of 2009. And I blogged about then, of course.

So I was more than ready for the movie version, and near to hyperventilating when my husband and I got pre-screening tickets to see it this week, before it is released into the wild. I left the theater spellbound. I loved it. Can’t wait to see it again.

It’s incredibly difficult, I would imagine, to smush a 500+ page book into a 2½-hour movie. There have to be things in the pages of the book that can’t show up in the screenshots in the movie. But I have to say, I was amazed at how respectful the screenwriters were to Ms. Stockett’s story and her unforgettable characters. They had a fabulous story to work with, and characters bursting with originality, but still, to capture the story and characters we loved into the arena of the visual so well is a wonder.

I was drawn in at the get-go with the fictive world Dreamworks created. Maybe it’s because I was already in love with these characters, but honestly, wouldn’t that make me more critical of someone else’s interpretation of what they looked and sounded like? I loved the attention to detail, the camera angles, the costuming, the sets, the sound track, the way you could almost taste Minny’s fried chicken – and maybe even her chocolate pie, if you know what I mean.

Aside from the movie’s artistic gifts, the moral takeaway was soundly woven in every minute of film. Someone asked me after I had seen it if it was family-friendly. It depends on the age of the child, I said. The occasional use of the S word is integral to the story. It is not there for ratings. It is the story. But I wouldn’t hesitate to take a 12-year-old. In fact, every 12-year-old and older should see it. Children are the adults of tomorrow. They bring into their adulthood what they were taught in in their childhood.

The part of the movie that will stay with me the longest is Abileen cuddling the toddler child of the white woman she works for, assuring this blossoming human that she is kind, smart, and important. Every child needs to hear that. Every child. That’s where the end of racial prejudice will begin.
Every child needs to hear they are kind, smart, and important. They become what we tell them they are.