The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Help is a page-turner.

Set in Jackson, Mississippi, from 1962 to 1964 the novel unfolds against the backdrop of the segregationist society at that time. It is told in first person by the three main characters in rotating segments. Aibileen and Minny are black maids, and Skeeter is the white woman, recently graduated from Old Miss, who convinces them and ten other maids to tell their stories for a book she wants to write about what it is like to be black maids working for white families.

Given the social climate, Skeeter is risking ostracism, but the maids are risking not only their jobs but the prospect of being black-billed so they will not be able to support their families. After much work, Skeeter manages to gain the trust of Aibileen and the tentative trust of Minnie, but the other ten prove to be impossible to get.

Until some things happen.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s first novel, tells the story of writing this book and of what happens after it is published. It has been made into a movie – due out in August – which from the looks of the trailer seems to follow the novel quite well. But I encourage you to read the novel first; they have to do lots of trimming and condensing to fit a 444-page book into a two-hour film.

I most highly recommend The Help.

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Categories: Books, Literature, Reading, Reviews

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10 replies »

  1. I just finished this wonderful book but found myself sad – remembering how our own dear maid was treated by my father. A racist from his very heart of hearts. My mother respected her and I loved her dearly but he tolerated her and she definitely “knew her place” in our house. Even as a child I questioned the “White ONLY” drinking fountains and restrooms in our town and why there were “back” entrances to all the stores downtown for Blacks. I watched as white customers were waited on first even though Black customers had been waiting far longer. One incident from my childhood – “our maid had brought her granddaughter with her on a Saturday and we played happily in my room all morning. But, when it came time for lunch, I noticed only a plate for me on the table. I cried and begged until she allowed her granddaughter to sit and eat with me but I got a stern warning “don’t you dare tell your daddy about this!!”. I knew it was serious and never told. I grew up hating the racism I witnessed in my own family – people who, even today, readily admit that they would not invite a Black person to eat a meal at their table. For God’s Sake, WHY?? I see Blacks in many small southern towns being treated as they were 50 years ago. Oh, they have the legal freedoms, but socially, they still step aside for a white lady on the sidewalk on in a store aisle. An older Black man won’t look a white woman in the eye. It’s heartbreaking. I can only imagine the anger and resentment it caused to (and still causes) to many Blacks – like the Minny character in the book. I don’t think I could keep my mouth shut either. I was always asking “Why”? Oddly, no one could ever tell me “why”.


  2. Thank you for sharing this story, Carol. Having grown up in the north, I can’t truly imagine what it must have been like to be a black person living in the south. But I’ve read enough about it (and seen enough news clips) to have a good perspective on it. I, too, have often asked why. It’s sad that this kind of prejudice could happen in the United States and that it is still happening in many peoples’ hearts. Prejudice against any group of people is the most shameful chapter in American history.


  3. I enjoyed this book so much. Until I reached forty years of age, I’d never read. I always wanted to, but just never found anything that would keep me seated long enough to read a book, a novel, anything. I read a couple memoirs and thought, this is niiiice. My neighbor and friend offered up The Help after I had surgery. I began reading a bit while recovering. Then I read on and on and couldn’t put it down. Kathryn Stockett has a powerful draw in of words. She has an ability to pull you in and just when you think you’ve missed something, keep reading. There’s a surprise right around the corner. I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you read this book. If you don’t read anything else, read this! I love Southern history, and sadly I too hate the way the maids were treated and it’s true that some of this behavior exists down here but only in most very rural areas. (We aren’t THAT backwards down here anymore) But you’ll fall in love with Albileen…and love Skeeter’s whit! And Minnie will keep you laughing at her unmistakeable hatred for Hilly Holbrook. I PRAY for The HELP part 2!!!!!


  4. The Help is an amazing book, all the more amazing because it is the author’s first novel. My wife and I just saw the movie and were pleased that it is one of those films that did justice to the source material. They had to trim some things and change some things around to keep the movie to a manageable length, but they did an excellent job. I highlly recommend it.


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