Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Read-alike Guides - The Help

If you liked The Help by Kathryn Stockett, you might enjoy one of these books:

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
After a gypsy predicts that Rose's violent husband will kill her, Rose grabs a gun and her dog Gretel and sets out on a cross-country escape, following messages that her missing mother has left for her and unraveling family secrets. Kathryn Stockett says, “I love reading about smart, flawed, and ultimately wise women, like Rose Mae.”

The Healing by Jonathan Odell
A plantation mistress takes a newborn slave child named Granada as her own. Meanwhile, her husband purchases Polly Shine, a slave woman known as a healer. Polly recognizes "the gift" in young Granada, and a domestic battle of wills ensues that raises tantalizing questions about who Polly Shine really is: a clever charlatan, a meddlesome witch, or a divine redeemer.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
When artifacts from Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II are uncovered during renovations at a Seattle hotel, Henry Lee embarks on a quest that leads to memories of growing up Chinese in a city rife with anti-Japanese sentiment. Ford writes earnestly and cares for his characters, who consistently defy stereotype.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Working as an indentured servant alongside slaves on a Virginia tobacco plantation, Lavinia, a seven-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past, finds her light skin and situation placing her between two very different worlds that test her loyalties.  Like Stockett, Grissom narrates from multiple female perspectives.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
This is a tale of the precarious friendship between an illegal Nigerian refugee and a woman from suburban London, told from the alternating and disparate perspectives of both women. He moves between alternating viewpoints with poignant prose and the occasional lighter note. A tense, dramatic ending and plenty of moral dilemmas add to a satisfying, emotional read.

Miss Ophelia by Mary B. Smith
In the summer of 1948, 11-year-old rural Virginia bookworm Isabel “Belly” Anderson goes to help her mean Aunt Rachel recover from surgery, because she wants to get away from home and take piano lessons from Miss Ophelia Love. A sharp observer of the mysterious doings of the adults in her life, the charming Belly learns a lot while she’s there.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Two families, the white landowning McAllans and the Jacksons, their black sharecroppers, narrate this novel in six distinctive voices. The family stories include the faltering marriage of Laura and Henry McAllan, the mean-spirited family patriarch and his white-robed followers, and returning war heroes Jamie McAllan and Ronsel Jackson.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
The stories of a small Cape Cod postmistress and an American radio reporter stationed in London collide on the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II, a meeting that is shaped by a broken promise to deliver a letter. Stockett called this book “a beautifully written, thought-provoking novel that I’m telling everyone I know to read.”

Second Nature by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Losing her father in a school fire that disfigures her face, Sicily is raised by a dynamic aunt who urges her to pursue a normal life, an effort that is influenced by her fiancĂ©, a terrible drunken revelation, and an opportunity for a risky full-face transplant. “The characters are the sort that stay with you long after the last page is turned,” says Stockett of this “fascinating story.”

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Like Stockett, See writes thought-provoking novels about women who use what little freedom they have to subvert the oppressive system in which they are forced to live. Her novels are compelling, layered, and character centered. In this story of female friendship set in 19th century China, an elderly woman and her companion communicate through a unique secret language.

Sula by Toni Morrison
At the heart of this novel by the beloved Toni Morrison is the bond between two women, a friendship whose intensity first sustains, then injures. Sula and Nel are both black, both smart, and both poor. Through their girlhood years, they share everything. When they meet again as adults, it's clear that Nel has chosen a life of acceptance and accommodation, while Sula must fight to defend her seemingly unconventional choices and beliefs.

Walk Like a Natural Man by M. Dion Thompson
Skip Reynolds, an 18-year-old Texas sharecropper, follows his dreams to L.A. He settles into a job as a dishwasher and begins the adjustment to urban life in the late 1930s. His aspirations of being the "bronze Errol Flynn" and improving on the Hollywood image of blacks are sorely tested by the compromises of Hollywood in the 1930s, when the most prominent black actor was Steppin Fetchit. How far will he go to realize his dream in this fascinating historical fiction novel?

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Four slave women—Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu—who are their masters’ mistresses, meet when their owners vacation at the same summer resort in Ohio. There, they see free blacks for the first time and hear rumors of abolition. During the final summer at Tawawa House, the women all have a decision to make—will they run? Heart-wrenching, intriguing, original, and suspenseful, this novel brings the unfortunate past to life.

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