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.
I know I’m behind in the times with this review but better late than never. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett is a book that should be read by all.
I knew what to expect from having heard others talk about it and the previews I saw of the movie when it came out but actually reading this book was something completely different.
Racism and inequality existed in America. They still exist and show no signs of evolving or fading in our current climate. What does surprise me is the venom behind racism and inequality. I live on the west coast, in a town that is mostly transient. The lines of color seem to blur here, maybe it’s because we’re all just trying to survive and live our lives the best we can with what we have now. Or maybe they’re not as blurred as I think they are and this is strictly my experience.
I started the book with high expectations and wasn’t disappointed at all. I learned so much and am interested in digging deeper. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the life of black and white women in Jackson, MS circa 1962. The class sects and invisible lines drawn make little sense to me. How could these southern gentiles treat these hard-working women, who raised their children, like dirt? What was going through their minds? How did they sleep at night?
The protagonist, Skeeter, really impressed me. She grew up in this society. It was common practice to treat staff as second class. She knew this wasn’t right and took a risk with two other strong women to tell the stories that needed to be told. Watching her blossom and grow beyond her teachings was gratifying.
I’ll tell you, I was embarrassed during many parts in the story. I was ashamed that white women who were themselves oppressed during this time had no problem doing the same thing or worse to black women who were just trying to support their families.
Aibileen was my favorite person throughout the book. She was an optimist and had no reason to be. She dealt with tragedy and heartache during so many years of her life yet she still saw the good in people and held onto hope for the future. The children she raised during her years as a maid were extremely lucky to have her influence.
Minny was tough as nails to the world, yet insecure and stubborn in her personal life. That spoke to me. We all present ourselves as invincible shields during many moments in our lives and yet there is the private person we are behind closed doors. That person that bends to the will of others for the sake of peace. I felt that Minny represented that and took great pleasure in being able to be inside her mind.
Hilly, public enemy #1, is a character that you love to hate. She is the epitome is all that is ugly and wrong with high society women in the South. She takes great joy in destroying the lives of the black women in her community. She is so afraid of change that she has darkened her heart and soul to the very idea that life could be different and better. What is odd about her was that for all her spitefulness, she was a wonderful mother. She loved her children and treated them with great respect. It showed the dichotomy that lives in us all.
I could go on and on about this book but it would spoil the experience of reading it for others. I’ll just say this instead. GO BUY THIS BOOK! And now I’m off to buy the movie to see how it compares.