Read this book. You absolutely MUST read this book. I am not bossy by nature, but this is a book that everyone should read.
I imagine you’ve heard of it by now. The New York Times calls it ” the button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s” in this review.
I have a hard time with fiction that speaks to race relations in the South, particularly those that deal with the relationship btw black and white women. I’m still floored that so many people adored The Secret Life of Bees which seemed to reinforce a slew of stereotypes. So, I was hesitant about this one. It took me awhile.
I am (of course) not neutral on any of these issues and I recommend this book to you as a person with the following experiences:
- My entire family (both sides) are from and currently live in Mississippi
- I was raised in a Southern city that most Southerners do not view as part of the South in spite of its geography
- I spent many of my childhood summers in Mississippi
- My cousins went to high schools that had two homecoming queens (one black and one white)
- My parents were in MS schools when they were integrated
- My mother was in high school when Medger Evers was shot in his own driveway and lived in the same town as the man who shot him (Byron De La Beckwith)
- My research area in grad school was stereotyping and prejudice and my major professor was a black woman
- I’ve spent the last three years as the only white female in my academic department in an HBCU (historically black college/university)
I tell you all of this to say that I think about this kind of thing a lot and this particular book didn’t feel as false as many of the ones that have gone before it.
One last thing – if you can, get the audio version. You can probably borrow it from your library. The narrators are fantastic and the voices really add to the authenticity of the story.