Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Help

I just finished this wonderful book. Not only was it such an engaging, heart-wrenching story, it took me back to my birthplace-- good Ole Mississippi. It brought back all the memories I have of growing up. Since I no longer live there, it really made me homesick. In my heart, I will always be a southern gal. I love grits, pecan pies, sweet potatoes, turnip greens (much to my husband's dismay). Oh, and Fried Okra, oh fried okra... If for no other reason I am thankful to be from MS! :)
I miss the hot , the accent, and black people. I always thought they had so much heart and personality! Read this book, you will think so too!
At the end of the book, the author shares her experiences of growing up in Mississippi. As I read this particular verse, it almost felt like I had written myself...almost. (I've just never been to New York.) It sums up my very feelings, so I borrowed her words to include here:

"The rash of negative accounts about Mississippi, in the movies, in the papers, on television, have made us natives a wary, defensive bunch. We are full of pride and shame, but mostly pride.
Still, I got out of there. I moved to New York City when I was twenty-three. I learned that the first question anyone asked anybody, in a town so transient, was "Where are you from?" And I'd say, "Mississippi." And then I'd wait. To people that smiled and said, "I've heard it's beautiful down there," I'd say, "My hometown is number three in the nation for gang-related murders."To people that said, "God, you must be glad to be out of that place," I'd bristle and say, "What do you know? It's beautiful down there."When a drunk man at a roof party from a rich white Metro North train type of town asked me where I was from and I told him Mississippi, he sneered and said, "I am so sorry."

I nailed down his foot with the stiletto portion of my shoe and spent the next ten-minutes quietly educating him on the where from abouts of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Elvis Presley, B. B. King, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, Faith Hill, James Earl Jones, and Craig Claiborne, the food critic for The New York Times. I informed him that Mississippi hosted the first heart transplant, the first lung transplant and that the basis of the United States legal system was developed at the University of Mississippi. I was homesick and I'd been waiting on somebody like him. I wasn't very genteel or ladylike and the poor guy squirmed away and looked nervous the rest of the party. But I couldn't help it. Mississippi is like my mother. I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person that raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too. "

I too have had people tell me they are sorry I was from Mississippi... many times. When I first moved away and was looking for a job, I had someone tell me no one would hire me "sounding like that." People have asked if I have crosses hidden in my closets. Those things really hurt. I feel like I gained a good education in Mississippi. From my baptist kindergarten all the way to the University of Southern Mississippi ("Southern"). I made friends with black kids in school and in 5th grade, my black neighbor across the street, Lynette, was my best friend. She and her sister taught me how to make a delicious lemon cake. Seriously, so good. I guess my whole purpose for writing this is to say, I hope everyone who reads this will go out and buy the book. And even though it doesn't sugar coat what the south once was, it does make us realize just how far we have come. I'm so proud of my heritage! I am glad that growing up wasn't always easy, because it has made me who I am today.

Get the book!
Candace, thank you so much for recommending it! I loved it!


Charis said...

This does sound like a great book. I am sure I'll forget that I want to read this - remind me!!!

Karin said...

I had someone else recommend that book to me the other day too. I guess I better read it!(: I love all your pictures. The ones of Sommer are super cute.

Melissa said...

Yes, Karin- you will love it. Mike probably would apreciate it too since he served his mission in Mississippi! :) It evokes lots of memories! :)