author : kathryn stockett
pages : [hardcover] 451
memorable quote :
You is kind. You is smart. You is important.
favorite character :
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.
Okay, I have to admit–this is one book where I saw the movie before reading the original novel. I know, I know–but I also have to admit that I never thought I’d be interested enough in the story to actually read it. And it was on TV one day, alright? Don’t judge me.
The Help was everything and nothing like what I’d expected. The writing was much better than I’d anticipated and, even though I knew some of the plot twists because they happened to be in the movie, this book made the characters that much deeper and more interesting. (But I still enjoyed the film, so you should check that out, too. I actually want to watch it again now that I have the book read.) Obviously, the most interesting people ended up being the help themselves. These women went through so much every day just to make a living, and a terrible wage at that. And they were forced to be strong enough to pretend to be grateful to the white women who were single-handedly ensuring that they stayed beneath the poverty line.
But, interestingly, there are good moments in the book. Not every scene or chapter is dedicated to violence and racially-charged tension. There are also the quiet, tender moments between a woman paid to raise a child who isn’t her own–a child who loves the help more than she loves her own mother. Moments of hope, where women who’ve been down and out for so long are willing to risk it all just so someone else in the world might be able to read about their true experiences. I particularly loved Aibileen, who I think could have been a fantastic writer on her own (and, in my mind, went on to write whatever she wanted without Skeeter’s help after the book) but just needed a little nudge to get things rolling. She was such a great role model and a great friend.
I hope that more people will continue to pick up this book because it’s so interesting. It’s nothing like anything else I’ve had the chance to read lately. Maybe that’s because it’s so realistic; I read at the end of my edition that the author based some of the story on her own experiences with ‘the help’ growing up. That’s what’s most shocking, I think. Most people out there forget how recently these events all took place.
I had a friend recommend this book to me and I think that I’ll be recommending this one to others as well. Not only is it one that needs to be read, the writing is great, and I can’t wait to pick up something else by Kathryn Stockett.