It’s long been understood that books are always better than their movie counterparts. Always. Books are able to go further and deeper into any story in a more meaningful way than a movie can. Last week I (finally) read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It was so compelling that I read it in three days. Whenever I read books about the civil rights movement in America’s deep south, I’m always shocked at the reality of what was happening in that time. The Help beautifully shows how awful it was to be living in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60s, and how brave the three ladies (2 black maids and one white writer) are to share stories, through the publication of a very radical book, from the perspective of the help – black women who raise white children but who aren’t allowed to use the white people’s bathrooms.
I had read that Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejection letters for her manuscript before someone offered to publish it. 60! Because I knew this, I was a little worried about whether or not the book would be any good. That is a lot of rejection. But, this book just goes to show that perseverance pays off. It is well-written, thoroughly researched and totally engrossing.
Last night, I watched the movie adaptation. Wow, do they ever take liberties with the book. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. It even had me in tears at two different points. If I had seen the movie without ever having read the book, I wouldn’t have any issues with it. But, as usual, because I had read the book first I couldn’t help but notice everything that was different.
I know that, obviously, the filmmaker had to leave out a lot. That being said, I really wish they had shown us more about how the book ‘The Help’ changed people’s minds in Jackson. Or about how the times were already changing (black people were finally being allowed in the white library by the end of the book). The movie does show how writing and publishing the book affected the three main protagonists, but wasn’t the point of doing it to start a chain reaction of change in the town’s attitude toward racism? There was plenty of that at the end of the novel, to show that their risks and sacrifices had been worth it. The movie lacked the redemption that I was craving throughout.
All of this is to say that if you haven’t read the book The Help, I would definitely recommend it.
The movie is good, but the book is better.