Thursday, July 21, 2011

If You Liked The Help by Kathryn Stockett, You Might Like...

If you liked The Help by Kathryn Stockett, you might like one of these other works of fiction based on race/class. 

We Are All Welcome Here: a novel by Elizabeth Berg
We Are All Welcome Here: A NovelElizabeth Berg, bestselling author of The Art of Mending and The Year of Pleasures, has a rare talent for revealing her characters’ hearts and minds in a manner that makes us empathize completely. Her novel, We Are All Welcome Here, features three women, each struggling against overwhelming odds for her own kind of freedom.
It is the summer of 1964. In Tupelo, Mississippi, the town of Elvis’s birth, tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently–and violently–across the state. But in Paige Dunn’s small, ramshackle house, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the effects of the polio she contracted during her last month of pregnancy, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit–with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.
Diana is trying in her own fashion to live a normal life. As a fourteen-year-old, she wants to make money for clothes and magazines, to slough off the authority of her mother and Peacie, to figure out the puzzle that is boys, and to escape the oppressiveness she sees everywhere in her small town. What she can never escape, however, is the way her life is markedly different from others’. Nor can she escape her ongoing responsibility to assist in caring for her mother. Paige Dunn is attractive, charming, intelligent, and lively, but her needs are great–and relentless.
As the summer unfolds, hate and adversity will visit this modest home. Despite the difficulties thrust upon them, each of the women will find her own path to independence, understanding, and peace. And Diana’s mother, so mightily compromised, will end up giving her daughter an extraordinary gift few parents could match.
Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell
Brothers and SistersTwo women navigate a road to friendship across the racial divides of Los Angeles in the aftermath of the Rodney King riots. Esther Jackson, a black employee at a downtown bank, is heartened when a black man is hired as senior vice-president, until he sexually harasses her white friend and coworker.

 River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
River, Cross My Heart (Oprah's Book Club)One of Oprah's 1999 Book Club Selections. An African American family copes with the loss of a child against the backdrop of racial segregation in the 1920s south. This is the author's first novel, a coming-of-age story acutely dedicated to characterizing its time period and cultural setting.

Mrs. Kimble: a novel by Jennifer Haigh
Mrs. KimbleThe story of the devastating effect one man, a serial husband, has on the lives of the three women he marries.
A chameleon, an enigma, all things to all women—a lifeline to which powerful needs and nameless longings may be attached—Ken Kimble is revealed through the eyes of the women he seduces: Birdie, his first wife, struggling to hold herself together after his desertion; his second wife, Joan, a lonely, tragic heiress who sees her unknowable husband as her last chance for happiness; and Dinah, a beautiful but damaged woman half his age.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching GodOne of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published -- perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Of course I would be remiss if this timeless, Pulitzer Prize-winning classic didn't make this list. In this case, the movie was just as good as the book. 
To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary EditionAt the age of eight, Scout Finch is an entrenched free-thinker. She can accept her father's warning that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, because mockingbirds harm no one and give great pleasure. The benefits said to be gained from going to school and keeping her temper elude her.
The place of this enchanting, intensely moving story is Maycomb, Alabama. The time is the Depression, but Scout and her brother, Jem, are seldom depressed. They have appalling gifts for entertaining themselves—appalling, that is, to almost everyone except their wise lawyer father, Atticus.
Atticus is a man of unfaltering good will and humor, and partly because of this, the children become involved in some disturbing adult mysteries: fascinating Boo Radley, who never leaves his house; the terrible temper of Mrs. Dubose down the street; the fine distinctions that make the Finch family "quality"; the forces that cause the people of Maycomb to show compassion in one crisis and unreasoning cruelty in another.
Also because Atticus is what he is, and because he lives where he does, he and his children are plunged into a conflict that indelibly marks their lives—and gives Scout some basis for thinking she knows just about as much about the world as she needs to.
Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
Freshwater RoadIt's 1964, and an African American college student volunteers to leave a sheltered, middle class life for a summer of eye-opening civil rights work.
When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer with the Civil Rights movement, she's assigned to help register voters in the already infamous town of Pineyville. While Celeste befriends several members of the community, there are also those who are threatened by her and the change she represents. Finding inner strength as she helps lift the veil of oppression, Celeste prepares her adult students for their showdown with the county registrar while struggling herself with loneliness, a worried father in Detroit, and her burgeoning feelings for Ed Jolivette, a young man also in Mississippi for the summer.

Have you seen the movie (The Help)? Was it a good adaptation? I haven't seen it yet and would love to read your comments.

Happy reading,


  1. 2nd time reading and it was just as enjoyable as the first. Although fiction, makes me wonder how much was actually true.
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  2. Everyone should read "The Help." It is enlightening, passionate and invokes the reader to do some serious soul-searching.
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