Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Narrators: Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Jenna Lamia, & Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Hours: 18 hours, 19 minutes
Awards: 2010 Audie Award Winner - Fiction & Distinguished Achievement in Production
The Help is set in 1962, during civil rights movement, in Jackson, Mississippi . It is told from three different points of view; two African American maids, Aibileen and Minny, and one twenty-three year old socialite, known as "Skeeter". Together, these three women risk everything to tell the true story of the lives of African American maids working in Jackson: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Help was one of my Book Club's selections. I'd read that the audio book version was excellent, especially with the southern accents and dialect, so I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! The three main narrators for this book were excellent.
The only issue I had, at first, was with the narrator, Bahni Turpin, reading Aibileen's part. Aibileen is in her 50's and the narrator just did not sound age appropriate. Her voice didn't have the age and wisdom I would have expected from Aibileen. However, after awhile, it didn't bother me.
The narrator for Minny, Octavia Spencer, is also playing Minny in the film version of The Help due out later this year. I thought Octavia's narration of Minny was spot on. She's an outspoken, sassy woman and Octavia delivered Minny's narration flawlessly.
Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan's character is narrated by Jenna Lamia. I thought Lamia did an excellent job of narrating Skeeter. Skeeter is still caught in that limbo between young adulthood and adulthood. Lamia's narration conveys Skeeter's struggle with being the proper daughter of a southern family and her desire to be an independent, working writer and journalist.
What I loved about the multiple narrators in this audio book is that these three women become the reader's friend. Listening to the narrators and characters come to life we, as readers, become part of their inner circle. That's why when Chapter 25 (or 26, not sure) rolls around, listeners get quite a shock. This chapter details the events of the much anticipated Junior League gala event.
This chapter, unlike the rest of the book, is told in third person. This way we, as readers, get an clear picture of how the event goes down with no one character's version. In the print version, the chapter looks different so readers are aware that there's a change in the point of view. For this chapter only, in the audio book, we get a different narrator.
I can't tell you how jarring it was to have gotten used to the three main narrator only to have a completely alien voice take over. I was so confused and flustered that I listened to about half of the chapter before skipping forward to make sure that the rest of the audio book was told by our three main narrators. The abrupt narrator change was akin to having a serious discussion with friends only to be interrupted by a a complete stranger.
Aside from this little snafu, I can easily say that The Help is one of the best audio books I've ever listened to! When my Book Club met to discuss The Help one of the things many of them had trouble with was reading Abileen and Minny's dialect. Having listened to the audio, I didn't have this problem and found the accents and dialect rich and ensnaring.
For a wonderful listening experience, or if you're at all interested in reading The Help, I would highly recommend the audio book!
Challenge Fullfilled: Whisper Stories in My Ear Audiobook Challenge