The Help – Kathryn Stockett vs. Beloved – Toni Morrison (Spoiler Free)

So, I’ve recently read both of these books. One (The Help) voluntarily and the other (Beloved) as a part of my university course. I started off reading Beloved and to be honest, not quite liking it. Trying to find an exact reason why I pondered if it could be because the novel is a historical piece, and I frankly, have little to no experience reading historical fiction. In order to prove or disprove this theory I began reading The Help. Having now finished both novels, I couldn’t help but compare the two novels and thought… why not write about it?

So, I’ve recently read both of these books. One (The Help) voluntarily and the other (Beloved) as a part of my university course. I started off reading Beloved and to be honest, not quite liking it. Trying to find an exact reason why I pondered if it could be because the novel is a historical piece, and I frankly, have little to no experience reading historical fiction. In order to prove or disprove this theory I began reading The Help. Having now finished both novels, I couldn’t help but compare the two novels and thought… why not write about it? So, here it goes..

BELOVED:

So Beloved if you didn’t know is an Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning novel written by Toni Morrison. It is based off a real story about a woman who was an escaped slave. For some historical context, this was in a time where in America being one either side of a river (Whose name i unfortunately don’t know) dictated whether or not you were considered free if you were of African descent. However, this freedom was at a constant risk as if you were “owned” by someone across the river they could come and “retrieve there property” essentially dragging you back. For this woman she was living in America essentially free from her “master’s” ensalvement, with her family; until one day she saw her “master” coming up the drive. Reacting quickly she herded her whole family into the shed and killed them all. She was in the process of killing herself and her infant child when she was captured and jailed. A horrific story which to this day astounds me. This true story spoke to Morrison and is what she based her novel off of. The fictional piece follows he life of Sethe and her daughter Denver. Seth is a woman who was a slave on a plantation who was abused, beaten and raped and who despite being injured and about 9 months pregnant trekked across state lines to ensure her baby’s and her family’s future. We are introduced to Sethe when she is living with her youngest daughter (now 18) Denver in a place called simply “124”. This home of of their happens to be haunted by the ghost of the baby whom Sethe killed. Her two other sons had left her already having had enough of the Ghost’s presence and her Mother-in-law Baby Suggs had just passed away. Denver and Sethe live a seemingly quite life, except their house is plagued by secrets, insecurities, and obviously a ghost that doesn’t know when to blood quit.

Admittedly it starts off as a really hard read. You’re picked up and thrown into the story, like Alice falling in to Wonderland. Only unlike Alice instead of saying “oh dear!” i personally was utterly a little more rude expletives. It’s a confusing ride at first, with incomplete stories and a language that while seemingly English is harder to understand, and there is absolutely no context at all. Somehow i feel like that’s the point of everything. To make the reader completely and utterly confused. However, after… quite a long while into the book. Some more context is unveiled and somehow, though I’m not sure how exactly you fall into the “rhythm” of the language of the book and all the things that completely sent you for a loop starts to make sense. Just in time for the climax of the book to leave you utterly confused, elated and sad. It’s not the world’s happiest book. Actually, there is nothing all that happy about it. Still, it’s a good read. Something I would suggest picking up if you want the unbridled and haunting truth of the Slave Trade in America. Just make sure you’re watching a lot of romantic comedies while reading this book, because it made me yearn for a really big hug and an even bigger carton of ice-cream.

THE HELP:

The Help on the other hand is almost the complete opposite of Beloved. The Help for one thing occurs in a later time period than Beloved. It is set in a time when slavery is abolished, and those of African descent are paid for work, although they are still treated as less than human and paid little to nothing, there is also a worrying amount of segregation and racism that makes me very sad. However, unlike Beloved this story while told seriously also has some light hearted elements which make it a much less depressing story. It is also a story that is easy to follow and while it does contain slang, it is slang that I didn’t find difficult to understand. It truly was a fun read and i really enjoyed the story it told and the clever way it was told in. The movie that was based off this book was also extremely good and was fantastically acted and beautifully told. Definitely highly recommended by yours truly.

The story follows three main characters. Skeeter Phelan, Minny and Aibileen all of whom live in Jackson Mississippi . Aibileen and Minny are maids who have been in the business of looking after white-people’s babies and houses since around the time they were fourteen and are long time friends. Minny is a short tempered and sassy maid whose sharp wit and tongue often get her in trouble with her employers and Aibileen is a calm and sad woman who has spent her years raising and loosing other people’s children and after having lost her own son to a tragic accident has just about given up on life. Eugena “Skeeter” Phelan is a white 22-year-old woman who never quite fits in with the crowd in Mississippi as instead of going to college to find a husband like most of the women her age, she actually went to college to get an education. A revelation I know. This decision is constantly looked down upon by just about everybody in her life, including her mother. It is because of her outsider tendencies and her college educated mind that she sees the world in a way that is unique of that time. That is, she doesn’t look down upon “the help” like everybody else does.

Together these three find an unlikely and heartwarming friendship and band together to write a book about how the world really works. By doing so they risk everything, Aibileen and Minny more than most; as while it is not predominant in the book, the violence that African American suffer is touched on and alluded to as a possible consequence. This book does not solely place the victim role upon “the help” as the book also goes into how people who are of the same race but not considered the same class are also treated. altogether the book splendidly highlights people’s ability to be cruel for cruelty’s sake. But, it does not solely focus on the negative like Beloved, instead Stockett choose to include some redeeming themes such as: discovering friendship and strength in difficult times, the kindness of others and sometime Kindness found in unusual places. Stocked even touches on domestic abuse and finding the self-empowerment to put and end to it, as well as definitions of community and how they can make or break a person.

I would seriously recommend this book to anyone who asks. It is a fantastic and beautiful read. Both of these books are.

 

Til next time,

L.K.

A Small Rant About Life and Expectations.

Just a little ramble

Have you ever felt like your life just isn’t that way it should be? Like you have this image in your head of who you are and who you want to become and those two things just feel like their never going to meet? I personally have multiple goals that i want to achieve in my lifetime; I want to publish my own book, travel the world, move into my own home, have dogs (so, so, so, so many dogs) and achieve my own independence as a human being; and of I’m ever feeling particularly confident in myself and self-esteem maybe even make a Youtube channel one day. Yet, I find myself in a place that is seemingly going nowhere, yes; I am in university going towards achieving a bachelor’s degree and possibly even a masters; and yes, I have started writing something (which is far from anywhere near being ready to be read) and yes, I have this blog here where i can express my passions to people who are like minded. But i feel as if I’m stuck forever int his situation without any capability of moving forward. I see people going to different continents and finding love, moving out and starting off in their dream careers whereas my life remains stagnant and the most exciting thing I experience is getting a good mark back on an assignment.

Am I just in this stagnant state of living which needs to remain unchanging until i have finished my degree and then I can successfully start living my life? Or am I missing all the important things that people are experiencing and that I am going to one day regret not doing? I do have these moments of bright possibility in which i start planing what I am going to do once I graduate; but these are all infringing on the decisions and judgements of others. Is that any way to live? should I be out there gripping life by the horns and living every moment to the fullest at the possible suffering of my grades (which believe me would happen) or is the safest route to just bide my time until I am academically free and then live in a state of permanent Carpe Diem? At least until my feet need to touch the ground again.

Maybe some things are meant to be waited for so that when I do eventually experience them I can do so would without the stress of academia sitting on my back like an unfortunate squatter. Or perhaps its not a case of either/or. Maybe I can do little bits of both, I can take whatever free time I have to follow my stationary passions and when i am free from Academic expectations I can take flight around the globe and take some career risks? Is that the way to go?

This stereotype of the ‘golden age’ of living is really an atrocious expectation to live up to. Shows need to stop perpetuating this culture of partying and stupidity experienced at a peak young age, do they writers ever stop to consider that not everyone like that kind of thing? Personally, the idea of dancing like a moron in a hot, sweaty, claustrophobic space with drunk idiots feeling me up like I am a prized pig… holds no pull on me, I’d personally rather sit on a beach, in a hammock, in the sun with a really good book. I don’t find anything appealing about getting drunk, having one-night-stands and wearing shoes that I am going to regret. And according to popular culture and media this makes me a freak? Why? Does youth really need to be immature, stupid and crazy to really be properly experienced? Can’t you live a quiet life and not regret it? Sure, some crazy could be cathartic. But is it necessary to be done through crazy and dangerous actions? Couldn’t someone just get culturally and spiritually lost in a city and be experiencing youth? Or even following their own passions that are more of an academic value? Is it really necessary to have crazy stories about stupidity to be considered as having “lived your life to the fullest”.

I hope not, as otherwise I might seriously consider becoming a hermit.

Thanks for listening/ reading to my small rant.

Til Next Time,

L.K.

Thoughts on Relationships and Dating.

Had a late night thought and figured I’d share it.

I’m not really like ordinary people; yes I realise most people say that needing to feel unique and individual and all; when in reality we’re all just a flock of sheep; bit all the same flock mind you but the metaphor is still true. But in this case I was really a part of the minority. See way back when I was in high school I had something about me that was different from everyone else; I didn’t spend half my time worrying about the concept of dating, having a boyfriend/girlfriend etc. I was more than content to sit back and enjoy my HS experience without all that relationship drama. Even up until the point where I got my first boyfriend, which I now point out wasn’t really idea.

I was peer pressured into it so to speak; by two of my friends. Why they did that I can only theorise; and the only explanation that I can come up with is that, my friends who were a group of people constantly changing relationship combinations were people who subconsciously sought these relationships as a way to feel good about themselves, to have self-esteem and confidence boosts; and me as someone who was comfortable in their own skin without any help was a huge contrast to this making them feel (again I stress the word subconsciously) self-conscious about their way of life, so they tried to bring me into the fold to survive essentially. See, there was this guy who was really sweet and incredibly shy and because of this two of my friends thought we were perfect for each other, when in reality I don’t think either of us liked each other in that way; but with some huge amount of meddling on my friends part he asked me out and incredibly uncomfortable but absolutely terrified of hitting the poor kid (who seemed as fragile as spun glass to me) I said yes. Oh boy.

Anyway it was incredibly awkward, especially when he tried to kiss me; it was in the quadrangle and it was absolutely busy with other people when he started to lean in; feeling like people were staring and gawking at me I freaked out and ducked my head (later I found out that a group of my friends were in fact staring raptly). To this day I’m still made fun of for it. But do I regret it? No. I wasn’t ready, nor was I comfortable so it was the right decision. Anyway we later mutually broke up, and instead of feeling sad about loosing my first BF I felt hugely relieved (so much so that I later licked a guys face; another story for another time). From then on I left dating to the people who liked having a relationship.

Until yet again peer pressure struck, and I ended up being convinced somehow that a man I had been friends with for 8 years and saw as an annoying brother at times; was someone I had a crush on and had to ask out, the convincing was done by the same people might I add, and like the first time this one went just as well. I had five seconds of “he actually said yes?!?” Which then came crashing down to “I don’t actually like this guy, %^*+” naturally we broke up and the bloke took it fairly well. Nice man.

But I find myself thinking about relationship number 2 now and… instead of thinking about those dates; sighing dramatically and thinking “that’d be amazing doing all that with someone I love” I just shrug, cringe a little and move on with my thoughts. Even now I think about my future if I didn’t force myself to waste my time with some guy in order to fulfil society’s expectations until “Mr. Right” comes around; I see being in a apartment by myself, surrounded by all my favourite colours, kinds of furniture, my books, having the music up on any song I like while I walk around with no Bra, a loose top and my underwear… I’m not worried, I actually look forward to it. Am I just one of those women who are okay being by themselves, because if so.. okay! To hell with societies expectations!!

People, from one lone wolf to another; if you don’t want a boyfriend/girlfriend etc. that’s fine! Live by yourselves, love yourself without the validation with others, howl at the moon!

Be whoever you want to be! And if that involves being with someone else, then okay! But no matter who you are don’t force your way of life on others, as someone who was on that end of the shit stick; it’s really not that fun.

As for me, if I ever god forbid get lonely and I want someone to love and spoil and who I want to love me unconditionally and go for long walks on the beach; I’ll get a dog.

Til next time,

L.K

The Reading Slump…

The Slump is real…
Read my advice on how to escape this bookworm hell.

The Urban Dictionary defined a reading slump as: A readers worst nightmare.¬†Not being able to pick up a book and read because you just can’t, you just can’t read.

And i couldn’t agree more.

It’s a new kind of hell when you can’t bring yourself to do you’re favourite thing in the world. For readers, this is the reading slump; it’s when no matter how hard you try for some reason you can’t see to either stick with a book long enough to finish it, or you do stick with a book but actually reading it drags on until you can barely even remember the plot line or the original excitement that thrums in your veins at needing to know what happens next dulls into a distant hum.

Reading slumps can occur for many reasons, personally for me its because lately i have university work up to my ears. Bu there are also numerous other reasons such as…

  1. Busy with work.
  2. Haven’t read in a while.
  3. Children.
  4. Read too much of the same genre.
  5. Just finished a soul shattering (in a good way) book.
  6. Just read a really bad book.

No matter the reason behind why you fell into a slump, it’s still hard to shake. I don’t quite have it down to a science (yet) but here’s my personal method that i use to defeat my reading slumps, which are now seemingly becoming an almost monthly ritual.

firstly i take a look at the books i’ve been reading lately to really get a feel for the type of books I’ve been reading as of lately; i don’t specifically look at genre, i look at the emotion and the style of the books I’ve been reading for instance, if i’ve been reading something like The Hunger Games, I would come note that those books had themes of death, war, a love triangle, angst, and anger. So, if i’ve been reading books that, let’s be honest challenges my faith in humanity its better to read a book that has a more positive outlook on life and a way of living and i would definitely stay away from a dystopian novel for the time being.

I recommend to get out of any reading slump, a contemporary book. But the problem is which contemporary? There are so many sub-categories within the contemporary genre that picking the perfect book to help you through the slump can be challenging. Before i get to how to pick this book i’m going to defend my Contemporary rule for a little bit. Contemporaries are the best books in my opinion to help with a reading slump. When an athlete has an injury and tries to get back into their beloved sport, you don’t see them on their first day back trying to work at the same level as they were before their injury, if they pushed themselves they would do more harm then good. For avid readers who are experiencing a reading slump starting off with a content heavy series that is written to ruin your life e.g the Mortal Instruments, Divergent series… you (the athlete) are just going to pull a muscle that’s going to prolong the period of inactivity. So, starting off with a contemporary novel that’s preferably a stand-alone is easing yourself back into reading in the most gentle way possible. It’s usually an easy read, with an ending that can make you feel emotion without feeling like you’ve been overwhelmed as if you’ve just conquered a massive series that would mark the end of a period of your life, and they usually involve a cute sappy romance that makes you believe in love; and… if ended correctly that can re-ignite the need to pick up another book immediately.

The hard part is picking the perfect contemporary to start you off properly on your reading journey or renewal. To bring back the example of The Hunger Games, when picking a contemporary novel if those books are the last ones you’ve read before try to go with a novel that has themes opposite of those in your last novel. So, as i said earlier the Hunger Games has themes of death, war, a love triangle, angst and anger; in order to negate the reading slump that this book helped you fall into going with a short contemporary that would have the general idea of a boy-meets-girl classic genre with little emotional trauma in the way of plot. Something simple and sweet with character growth and a happily ever after ending would be the perfect book to get out of the slump as it would make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. It would encourage you to explore this genre further and eventually you can evolve your reading habits to include contemporaries with more intense sub-plotlines and then before you know it you’ll be picking up another dystopian series in no time. Books i would recommend to start off with in this case would be…

  1. Stephanie Perkins. (Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and Happily Ever After).
  2. Rainbow Rowell (Attachments and Fangirl)
  3. John Green – Paper Towns.
  4. Lauren Myracle, John Green, Maureen Johnson – Let it Snow.
  5. Nicholas Sparks – Safe Haven.

To all those battling a reading slump i wish you luck! x

Til next time!

L.K.

 

Urban Dictionary Source:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reading%20slump

 

Introduction of Me: Origin of the Bookworm.

Just a little bit about me and how i became a Bookworm

Hey everyone,

i figured i should take this time to talk a little about myself so you guys know what to expect from this page… not that i’m a 100% sure anybody will actually read anything i write but it is a good chance for me to practice for later in life; so here goes nothing:

I am a nearly 20 year old university student in my third year studying in an English degree. my life is basically a never ending routine of classes, studying and the occasional time to finish a novel the same day that i start it. Since the time that i was little i have always read books, mainly because my mother refused to perpetuate gender roles in my life; so instead of kitchenettes, tea sets, tiaras etc. i got books, but still i didn’t really become a dedicated bookworm/ book-dragon until ¬†close to my first year of high school, around this time i was still reading casually to pass the time instead of playing games and giving myself injuries like a normal kid. it wasn’t until the movie Twilight came out that my descent into Book addiction began, i got the first three books of the series for my birthday ( Twilight, new Moon and Eclipse for those who don’t know) after i begged my mother for them after watching the movie and loving it. As i was sick that week and it was my first week in a new school i stayed at home and those three books had been finished within three days, it was to a much younger me absolutely amazing and i had to get the next one. So, without further arguments my mother generously bought me the next book in the series which i finished in two days. Feeling better after my week sickie i walked into a new and frankly terrifying school feeling like in that moment i’ve never felt a closer affinity to one Bella Swan.

I was frankly terrified. But i soon found my way into the my social group and how did i do that? through Twilight, at this time it was a major phenomena and basically everyone was into it. So naturally when i mentioned it around certain Twi-hard i was immediately accepted into the fold of nerds, i am now ashamed (somewhat) to admit that we even gave each other nicknames based on characters from the books (I was Esme). My evolution didn’t stop there however, i quickly got sick of reading the books 12 times in a row and a girl i used to be friends with then decided to open up my world by showing me the paranormal section in our school library. Ah, the mistakes of youth. In that time i found series after series of books to fall in love with to the point where i got used to having a book on my person at all times.

Now, i’m someone whose life is dedicated to books and literature, both metaphorically and literally with aspirations to become a famous author and a bookshelf packed to the brim with novels. So, in order to spare my friends the pain of listening to me ramble for hours on end about whatever book I’m reading at the moment, I’ve made this blog, where i can write reviews on what i’m reading and maybe post so original pieces of my own. So, if you’re reading this for whatever reason, Good Luck and Enjoy xx

L.K.