“To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Help”, and why they both sucked.

Unlike my husband, I do not have an unflinching hatred for things that are popular.  No one tell A that Nutella is the choice of hipsters and other health-conscious weiners, because we will have to throw away the gallon drums of that damn peanut butter impersonator we have purchased in recent months, that apparently cost an equivalent price of baby bald eagle eggs.

So when I brought home “The Help” from the library a few weeks ago, he asked me why I was bothering with the book.

“You know it’s going to be terrible.  Anything everyone loves is going to be terrible.  Read something with substance, like Snooki’s ‘A Shore Thing’.”

I trudged through that book for TWO WEEKS trying to find the gold hidden within that everyone was raving about.  I am a rather fast reader, but that needlessly long and dull book felled even this practiced skimmer.

My A kept asking me how the book was going and my creative answers continued to delight everyone in my house.

“I’m waiting for it to get good.”

“I’m only 200 pages in.”

“Must be a twist ending ……. ”

The excuses piled up until I reached the underwhelming conclusion and closed the back cover, after completing more than 400 pages of stuff I’ve read before.

Most unfortunately, the stuff I’ve read before originated largely from a “classic” that I was forced to read in high school: “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Why “To Kill a Mockingbird” is still seen as necessary reading for high school sophomores is difficult for me to understand.  The themes, while potentially groundbreaking when they were written, are lukewarm, slow and made me feel like I was merely getting through the pages, instead of identifying with the characters and emphatizing with the situation.  The premise is great, but Harper Lee’s approach to the story stirs up nothing more than another level of hatred for high school required reading.  There should be a swelling of pride for Atticus Finch’s bravery and horror at how minorities and the misunderstood are treated.  And that damn “drinking the tea” scene was so painful I remember the hatred felt slogging through it as I sit here almost five years later.

“The Help” was very similar: slow and laborious.  Much of the narration felt like I was treading water and was moving sideways, instead of advancing the story.  Once again, the plot could be interesting, but the same themes are repeated over and over unnecessarily.  The huge revelation that was supposed to happen at the end and leave the readers cheering for the heroes, was low-brow, disgusting, juvenile and left me sympathizing with the woman who had been so evil throughout the book.

If you want to read something good about minority struggles read “A Time to Kill.”  If you want to read something that stirs emotions, read “Flowers for Algernon” or “Of Mice and Men.”   If you want to read something where you cheer for the underdog, read “Ender’s Game.”

I was told the book was triumphant for the civil rights cause and a real tearjerker, but the only thing I was left feeling after it was over, was relief I could move on to something else.

And I cry when watching those old Kleenex commercials.

Thoughts?  What did I miss?

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One thought on ““To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Help”, and why they both sucked.

  1. W December 27, 2011 / 10:32 pm

    Flowers for Algernon leaves me in tear time and time again. I do enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird, I enjoyed the playfulness of the children in the beginning and the realizations that they came to throughout the book. As for The Help, I will probably be asked to enter the gates of heaven before I read that books. (and we all know where I will be in the afterlife)

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