In March of 2009 I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett and instantly fell in love. Early on, I declared this book to be the best one I had read in a long, long time, and still contend it is probably the best book I read in 2009.
When I heard that Kathryn Stockett was making a visit to the Iowa City Public Library who was hosting her along with Prairie Lights Book Store, I instantly knew that I wanted to go and see her. I don't live in an area that gets a lot of big name authors very often, and having her visit - on a weekend no less- was definitely sparking some planning on my part.
Lucky for me, my husband was around this weekend and so was my mother, which helped me with childcare for the day. (For the record, my husband would have been happy to have the kids all day, but I decided that they could split their time between home and Grandma's, giving them some different things to keep them busy besides fighting with each other!) Peaceful Reader was also available, so without anything standing in our way, we decided to go for it.
And I am so glad we did! Stockett is cute, petite, and blond with a Southern accent I loved listening to. She did read from her book - a part in the back that isn't even included in the copy I own - and later on from a portion in the book where Skeeter has been called ugly and she is talking to her maid. From the moment she stepped up to the podium, Stockett felt like a friend. She didn't give advice about how to write or the steps to being published, but instead talked a little about herself and her life and the characters in The Help. After about twenty minutes she held a Q and A session. When Stockett explained that her characters sort of in control of themselves...she is just along for the ride, a woman in the audience asked if her characters were planning on writing more about themselves. Stockett didn't discuss any new books that are actively being worked on right now, but she did say that there may be a little more story left to tell. While a sequel to The Help seems unlikely, a prequel may be something to be considered, sharing where these interesting women came from.
I loved The Help back in March of 2009 and I love it still. Hearing Stockett speak was a thrill and something I am so glad I made the effort to do. So for anyone who has not yet read The Help, please put it on the top of your list. And if Stockett is ever in your town, go and see her speak.