Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Release Date: 28th June 2011
Publisher: Baker and Taylor
Format: eBook
Pages: 544
Rating: 4.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 OTS, 2013 ODY, 2013 EBC and 2013 GVR

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"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."

Coming off from reading Days of Blood and Starlight, this was always going to have to fight an uphill battle. And, surprisingly, this book didn't fail to impress. 

The Help is set in the small town of Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s, during the time of the civil rights movement. We follow three ladies - Skeeter, a young aspiring author, and Aibileen and Minny, two black maids working for two white families - as they come together and try to make a difference, however small it may be. 

I've never read about this period of time before, so that it itself was quite interesting. The racism everywhere - from how the town is segregated into sections based on race, to Hilly's campaign to install additional bathrooms in all houses employing black maids because of their 'diseases' - it's just astounding to read that and think that people used to live like that. And nothing was ever done about it because either a) people had just come to accept the way things were (in Aibileen's case) or b) they just never thought about how wrong it all was (in Skeeter's case). Just that in itself was fascinating to read. 

I loved each of our three narrators for different reasons. Each had their own little story, and each grew throughout the novel and bridged the gap between the races. Minny grew to care for her employer on a personal level, for the first time. Skeeter grew to really appreciate her childhood maid, Constantine, and see her friends' true colours. And my favourite part by far, Aibileen decided to teach Maw Mobley, the little girl she looked after, that there was no difference between black people and white people. It may have gotten Maw Mobley in trouble a couple of times, but I loved that Aibileen taught her to see people for who they really are, not just the colour of their skin.

I loved so very many aspects of this novel, and it's a fascinating read - I'd suggest checking it out (or even just the movie, I heard that was pretty good too).    


  1. I am glad that you enjoyed The Help. I only recently read it myself and loved it. All of the characters played an important role to the detail of the story.
    -Dilettantish Reader

  2. I haven't read the book, but I did see the movie (shameful!). I enjoyed the movie. Glad you enjoyed the book :)

    --Sam @ SIK Book Reviews


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