With the year coming to an end, there is reflection on which was the best book I’ve read this year and which was the most disappointing. While it will take me some time to rummage through my book list for this year, off the top of my head I feel really glad I happened to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I remember being so touched by the book. While I urge everyone to read it and I go back and sift through my book list to analyze the best book of the year, here is a snippet from the book.
The first time I was ever called ugly, I was thirteen. It was a rich friend of my brother Carlton’s over to shoot guns in the field.
‘Why you crying, girl?’ Constantine asked me in the kitchen.
I told her what the boy had called me, tears streaming down my face.
‘Well? Is you?’
I blinked, paused my crying. ‘Is I what?’
‘Now you look a here, Eugenia’-because Constantine was the only one who’d occasionally follow Mama’s rule. ‘Ugly live up on the inside. Ugly be a hurtful, mean person. Is you one a them peoples?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t think so,’ I sobbed.
Constantine sat down next to me, at the kitchen table. I heard the cracking of her swollen joints. She pressed her thumb hard in the palm of my hand, somthing we both knew meant Listen. Listen to me.
‘Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision.’ Constantine was so close, I could see the blackness of her gums. ‘You gone have to ask yourself, Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?’
She kept her thumb pressed hard in my hand. I nodded that I understood. I was just smart enough to realize she meant white people. And even though I still felt miserable, and knew that I was, most likely, ugly, it was the first time she ever talked to me like I was something besides my mother’s white child. All my life I’d been told what to believe about politics, coloreds, being a girl. But with Constantine’s thumb pressed in my hand, I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe.
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help