Keeping our memories intact and keeping them honest

My sister e-mailed that she had just picked up from the library The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Her book club is to review it soon and she couldn’t put it down!  She remembered that we had read it shortly before we started this blog.

My wife is from Montgomery, Alabama and has spoken with many people about The Help.  First, she called her brother to ask, “Where did Lula sleep when she stayed with us when Mother and Daddy went to their convention?” (one week each year). Barbara knew the answer about the bathroom — the obvious question if you’ve read The Help — because her family had only one bathroom, as did most people she knew.  Her brother did not remember and could not answer the question.  Barbara thinks that Lula slept in her parents’ bedroom while she was caring for children in their absence.  This African American woman had cooked most of her life for Barbara’s mother’s family of eleven, then visited the nine children and their families after Barbara’s grandparents died.  At our family reunion last week, Barbara raised the question again.  One cousin said that she certainly remembered where Lula slept at their house — her brother had to move out of his room.  (He now owns a very fancy inn and many people get to sleep in his rooms!)  Barbara’s friend in Maryland, who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, also could not remember where  the person who cleaned for them slept when she had to stay overnight instead of going home due to safety concerns because of violence during the Civil Rights movement.  But her opinion of the book is quotable:  “The value of this book is to keep our memories intact and to keep them honest.”  We may return to this book in another blog because we have a lot of other comments about it, especially since it is similar to Well Considered:   “A story of social awakening as seen from both sides of the racial divide,” as Sybil Steinberg characterized The Help in The Washington Post’s Book World/washpost.com and quoted on www.amazon.com.

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