The Help by Kathryn Stockett

21st century. Freedom of speech. Equal human rights. No racism (at least it is frowned upon, anyway!).

Now, rewind a bit and enter the world of Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. A time where black maids raised up white babies, though they weren’t trusted-‘ not to steal the silver’ .

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is an extra ordinary story told by three extra ordinary women, who live in a time they are much ahead of.

The story starts by showing the two very different worlds of ‘The help’ (the colored women) and the ‘jobless, stylish, league ladies’ (the white women) co-existing together in a small town in Mississippi.

The joining link between these two worlds was one of the main protagonists- Miss Skeeter- the white, aspiring writer raised by black maids all her life.

Skeeter always wanted to write something that people really needed to read about. So, in a time where even speaking to a black person was shunned upon, she decided to team up with two black women (Aibileen and Minny) and write about the point of view of ‘the help’.

In this dark, hard hitting tale of the past, Stockett re-explores history with three strong women.

Women, who dared to break the unfair, unspoken rules in search of a truth, they had been questioning their entire lives.

Women who risked their lives to speak out against injustice.

Women who showed us what courage is, and the impact it can have and finally, women who taught us the power of unity and friendship.

Through The Help, Stockett not only changed the lives the people in the book but also those of its readers as it forces one to think about the ignorance we practice on the help around us even today. It forces us to realize that the evil of ‘slavery’ still exists and that it is finally time for us to start changing that.

This deeply moving novel teaches us to ultimately respect everyone and anyone around us irrespective of their class, caste, gender or color.  So it’s a must read for both racists and anti-racists out there, so they can either feel the shame or the pride they deserve.

You Loved Me at My Darkest by Evie Harper

Every once in a while, I browse through the ‘free books for kindle’ section on amazon, which is where I came across this book. The title caught my eye almost instantly. And the cover wasn’t too bad to look at either, it made me curious as well as excited. You Loved Me at My Darkest is the first book of the You Loved Me series by Evie Harper. This book came out on 7 March, 2017 and is Harper’s most famous book out of all the 14 she has written till now.

The story begins with Lily and Sasha Morgan; two Australian sisters traveling to America for a long overdue vacation. It starts out like a good carefree holiday, but soon turns into their biggest nightmare. They’re kidnapped by a rich madman Marco running a sex slave dynasty and separated.

The story mostly revolves around Lily and Jake, one of her kidnappers; they find comfort in each others’ company and fall in love. Jake finds himself torn between his love for Lily and the duty he has to fulfill.

What I really like about this story is that even though, Sasha is hardly a main character, you can’t forget about her while reading the book since Lily’s sisterly concern is always prominent. The urgency in the dialogues show the love and affection the sisters have for one another. Lily does everything she can to plan her sister’s escape even though she knows that if she’s caught, the consequences will be brutal for both of them. The intensity of the brutality and the reality of a sex slave dynasty honestly made me cringe while reading this book. One emotion I felt most vibrantly throughout was anger.

There were parts I couldn’t understand, like how could someone fall in love with their captor? Was it Stockholm syndrome? All these questions however, are answered by the time you finish reading this book. I’ve always believed that a good ending is always better than a happy ending, and this book definitely has a good ending.

I’d give this book a 4/5 rating.

The Night of – A TV Show More Than Just a Simple Crime Drama!

The Night Of is an American Crime television show that was premiered in 2016. It is a miniseries based on Criminal Justice, a 2008–09 British television series. The plot of The Night of revolves around a college student Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed) and a crime that he may or may not have committed.

One night Nasir’s invited to a party and takes his father’s cab without permission. However, when Andrea Cornish (Sofia Black-D’Elia) gets into his cab, he has trouble telling her to leave the taxi. Soon, they both end up at Andrea’s place where they consume illegal drugs and get intimate. The next scene shows Nasir waking up in the kitchen and going upstairs to get his things, which is when he discovers that Andrea is dead. In blind panic, he runs out of the house only to realize that he left his keys inside. He breaks in to her house, grabs his jacket which has his keys, a vial and a blood covered knife. A neighbor sees him breaking into Andrea’s house and run out a minute later and calls the police.

Nasir is pulled over a couple of blocks away for taking an illegal left turn. Once at the police station, the knife is retrieved from his jacket and he is taken into custody.

The entire season which has 8 episodes revolves around this case where Nasir pleads his innocence over and over again. Nasir is put into Rickons Prison awaiting his prosecution, where he is attacked twice, after which he makes connections with Freddy (Michael K. Williams) an influential prisoner.

Towards the end of the season, changes in Nasir’s personality are evident, from looking like an innocent college student; he turns into looking like a true stereotypical colored convict. It shows how wrongly convicting someone of a crime can sometimes turn innocent citizens into criminals.

The show also shows the negative/racist reaction of people towards the Muslim community after Nasir’s arrest, it portrays their status in the citizen hierarchy and the injustices they face regardless of their status of citizenship.

This show kept me on the edge at times, while left me completely uninterested at times as well. The suspense building up throughout the season led me to a great deal of disappointment at the end. Whether or not the ending was to my liking, it was realistic and relatable.

You’d have to watch to know who killed Andrea and whether or not justice was served.

I’d give this show a 3/5 rating.

Moonlight Movie Review – Showcasing Black Lives Matter!

Usually, I don’t review movies but I found it to be an extremely influential one (and also, because it won so many awards). So, I thought I should dedicate one post to it. Thus, here are my thoughts on it :-

“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.” – Juan to Chiron (Moonlight)

This is the phrase which reverberates throughout the 74th Academy awards winning movie, Moonlight. Lately, you must have seen a lot of Hollywood movies dealing with the theme of searching one’s own identity, exploration of self or going through an identity crisis. But, one thing those movies never portrayed was the journey of self discovery of a character who is socially, culturally and economically marginalized. This is what the director producer of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins beautifully portrays through the cinematic front.

Moonlight, is basically a bildungsroman of an African-American boy called, Chiron. The story is set against the time when there was a crack crisis (drug-dealing) in Miami city. The timeline of this movie is divided into three parts. It begins with Chiron in his early childhood, then his struggling teenage years and finally, concludes with Chiron being a fully grown up man. Audience is served with three broad social questions as soon as the first part sets into motion. The first two obvious questions being the cultural & economical marginalization faced by an African-American in a white man’s land. Third being the question of homosexuality. Chiron is called, “little” at school because of his homosexuality and he has Paula, who has completely failed as a mother due to her obsessive addiction with drugs. The unfortunate part is that he is neither aware of being gay nor has someone to talk about it. Finally, he finds a father-figure in Juan, a drug dealer, who probes Chiron to find his own identity and come to terms with it.

But soon, Juan is also snatched away from Chiron by the hands of death. Then, comes the second phase, where we see Chiron stepping into his teenage years. He is already carrying a ruptured psychology and a mother who is a non-existent entity in his life. He is still bullied for being gay. But, amongst all this, his friend Kevin comes to his rescue. He provides him the familial support and even helps him understand his sexuality. There is a scene where they kiss each other and share some intimate moments on a moonlit beach. Soon this also fades away when Chiron gets arrested for hurting a fellow student.

In the third and final phase, we see Chiron coming out of prison and becoming a dealer of drugs. At this point, he forgives his mother for failing terribly at motherhood and is reunited with Kevin. Although, Kevin is now married to a woman, he expresses his discomfort towards the ways things turned out for him. This shows how most of the black gay men are impelled by the society to confirm to hetero-normative relations. Chiron confesses his love for Kevin and the scene ends with the two embracing each other.

Undoubtedly, it is a must watch movie and Barry Jenkins has done a marvelous job. He has provided a prestigious place in the cinema to explore the potentials & struggles of “Black Lives”.

What are your thoughts on this movie? Have you seen it yet or not? Or are you planning to watch it anytime soon? And do you think I should do movie reviews along with book reviews? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

Cheers! 😀