Sunday, April 8, 2012

Title: The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

Rating <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: "The Help" will live in hearts and minds, be taught in schools, be cherished by readers. The three women who form its core, idealistic Skeeter, loving Aibileen, and sarcastic, sassy Minny, narrate their chapters each in a voice that is distinctive as Minny's caramel cake no one else in Jackson, Mississippi, can duplicate.

These stories of the black maids working for white women in the state of Mississippi of the 60s have an insiders' view of child-rearing, Junior League benefits, town gossip, and race relations.

Despite the fact that the maids prepare the food, care for the children, and clean every part of every home, privy to every secret, many of the white women look at their black maids as an alien race. There are more enlightened views, especially those of Skeeter, a white, single woman with a college degree, who aspires to more than earning her MRS. Skeeter begins collecting the maids' stories. And the maids themselves find the issue of race humiliating, infuriating, life-controlling. Race sows bitter seeds in the dignity of women who feel they have no choices except to follow their mamas into the white women's kitchens and laundries. Aibilene says, "I just want things to be better for the kids." Their hopes lie in education and improvement, change someday for their children.

There is real danger for the maids sharing their stories as well as danger for Skeeter herself. The death of Medgar Evers touches the women deeply, making them question their work and a decision to forge ahead, hoping their book can be published anonymously and yet not recognized by the very white women they know to the last deviled egg and crack in a dining room table.

Review: I will admit I have  seen the movie for The Help, and while at the time I thought it was a very inspiring movie, does a movie ever really hold up to a book? In Ms. Stockett's The Help you go inside the world of African American women in Mississippi who were struggling against the magnificently displayed racism of the time even with the changes that were being made in places like Washington,  in Mississippi they still couldn't go in the same doors as whites, use the same bathrooms, and not until the end of the book even use the White Public Library.  

When a young twenty-three year old college graduate; Skeeter returns home at first things return to normal she hangs out with friends at the Junior League, plays tennis matches, and worries about what to write about, then after getting a part time job writing cleaning articles for   the local newspaper, she thinks of an idea, what would it be like to write a book from the perspective of The Help? Not the white women but the maids who work for them, Skeeter gets this idea when she has had to listen to her supposed "best friend" Hilly drone on about the new home health initiative which will require whites to have separate bathrooms for their colored help in their homes because of "disease and sanitation issues." Skeeter looks at Abilene who is Elizabeth's (one of the white women's) maid and sees how she is just staring down and decides to ask her if she will help when she helps her with the Miss Myrna columns because ELizabeth has agreed that she can ask Abilene questions if need be.  And well from there the story begins, it takes Abilene awhile to come around but she does, and eventually so will others, there are tragedies, love stories, and racism and prejudice, that could knock your teeth out, and yet still a bond between these women serving and the children that they have to raise then turn around and serve all over that is heart breaking.  It's quite a dynamic and I highly recommend this book! FYI -The author had such a maid herself if you look at the back of the book there are about eight pages about her very interesting. This book is well worth the time. 

For those who want more of a book breakdown - each character has their own dynamic - it it easy to switch from one person to another.  The setting is beautifully described,  The book is written in more of a narrative form switching from character to character, which frankly I found more interesting. And the plot is easy to follow only going back in time during the book (the maids stories) and a few times with Ms. Skeeter.


  1. good review! I really enjoyed The Help. Do you have any recommendations for something similar?

  2. Hey! Thanks :) Well if you've ever read To Kill a Mockingbird it has the same type of historical significance of course the language is way different because it was written so long ago more modern things which are popping into my head that aren't necessarily prejudice against the same group but still prejudice against those who couldn't really fight back (some of these are still tbr just fyi :) ) are, The Blue Notebook (very graphic) by James Levine, Mary Mrs A. Lincoln, which I didn't love but others have, and if you'll give me a little more time I'll look through my library to find more specifically related topics <3 (As far as just women; A Walk Across The Sun, and yes I'll be back! )