Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Published: 2009
By: Books on Tape
Source: EPL
Format: Audiobook
ISBN: 9781415961261

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Goodreads

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If you have ever been into reading about the African-American Civil Rights movement, Rosa Parks, or “Martian Luther King Jr.” but felt non-fiction was just too heavy? Than The Help might be a great read for you. Actually, to be honest I’m sure you’d love this book regardless of whether or not you enjoy deep South civil rights and talk of equality amongst all people. Maybe that isn’t the greatest sales pitch, but I would highly recommend this book to just about anybody.

The Help is a story where the reader follows three women and how they’ve joined together to compile the good, the bad, the ugly stories of maids of white-households in the little town of Jackson, Mississippi. When the book started off as nothing but a story of Aibileen, a maid, caring for a white family’s young daughter, Mae Mobley, everything seemed typical. You kind of think “Okay, well this is nothing important, right?”.  What started as a very simple story of stuck-up, Country Club girls who leave the responsibility of child caring to their maids and creating drama turns into twisted, dramatic scenes which occurred primarily because one white girl didn’t like the way colored people were being treated. Or in this case, Aibileen’s mistress, Elizabeth, insisted her husband build Aibileen her own bathroom after he had a bridge club discussion and a hoity-lady, Miss Hilly is promoting her ‘bathroom initiative’ to the ladies attending (because at that point in time there was still assumption that colored folk carried disease and were more unsanitary than white people).

“All these houses they’re building without maid’s quarters? It’s just plain dangerous. Everybody knows they carry different kinds of diseases than we do.” Hilly Holbrook

“A bill that requires every white home to have a separate bathroom for the colored help. I’ve even notified the surgeon general of Mississippi to see if he’ll endorse the idea.” Hilly Holbrook

One of Elizabeth’s friends, Eugena “Skeeter” Phelan, didn’t like the way this sounded and it just seemed to spark a feeling which was the beginning of her silent protest. The series of events resulted in risking a lot more than just her own reputation in the grand scheme of things. Skeeter recruited Aibileen, who recruited another maid, and they in turn managed to gather other maids for tell their stories. Even with all the dangers of these women both Skeeter and the maids they risk everything to create a manuscript, filled with anonymous accounts, to send to a publicist in New York before the new year.

The whole story is full of laughs and tearful moments you just can’t tear yourself away. Life events that nobody wants to talk about, but it’s lovely reading from another perspective rather than from the self-righteous. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book if you haven’t already. Now I need to get around to watching the movie 🙂

5 Star signature

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About Black ' n Write Reviewer

I'm a junior high librarian finding her way into the lives of her students through the art of literature.
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