Read: The Help, Katheryn Stockett
Drinking: India Spice Chai, Celestial Seasons
I was ambivalent about starting The Help precisely because it was so hyped. I assumed that since it was a national bestseller, it was probably poorly written (an illogical assumption, I know). I decided to give it a try after my roommate gave it rave reviews, and I'm glad I did.
From the first page, Stockett draws her reader into the world of Abilene, Minny and the rest of the maids in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Even Skeeter, the white main character, is secondary to their stories of love, abuse, and eventually triumph. Using slang and writing that imitated each character's education level allows for the reader's strong entry into the story, although adjusting for it can be slightly jarring as the chapters change.
The biggest point-of-view problem I had with the book was the chapter on the benefit, which moves from first-person to third-person omniscient. I was completely pulled out of the book for the entire chapter. It really did not fit the style of the rest of the novel, although I can see how having that particular chapter from a limited point of view would have weakened that particular episode.
Overall, The Help is a solid, heartbreaking, and inspiring read. Prepare a weekend to read it - you won't be able to put it down.