The Help review
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:
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.
Review and Grade: A+
I’m about to join the already crowded group of bloggers applauding this book. It is my favorite book of 2009 and it will take something truly incredible to usurp it.
This novel has everything I look for in a book: characters, plot, originality and fantastic writing. Then it does what few books do: makes you reexamine yourself and your life. This book makes you grow.
The first thing you’ll notice as you read The Help is the writing. Stockett pulls off writing in dialect because it is such a true voice, not just a stereotype of an accent. Next, the characters. They develop gradually throughout, but I loved them from the minute they showed up on the page.
However, what I loved most was the retelling of a story I thought I knew. I thought I understood segregation and racism and the civil rights movement. I thought it sort of happened naturally, graduall, with a few big pushes. It speaks wonders of Dr. King that his legacy is so much about peace that younger generations learn only of that and not of the hate, fear and violence that his dream existed in.
In the afterword, Stockett tells you her favorite line in the book, but I think there is another part that’s more powerful. Aibileen tells Minny about the lines. The lines that exist between black and white, employee and employer, rich and poor, they don’t actually exist at all. We create them from our own fears and insecurity. When you see things that way, the racism isn’t always about hatred or ignorance but about the lines we create and insist are never crossed, it makes me wonder how far we’ve really come in the last fifty years. A lot has changed, but the lines still exist, maybe in other ways and other places, but they’re still there. We still need this book.
I never before realized the amount of courage it took to stand up. The fear that was so real and so justified sickens me but it makes me grateful to those brave people, black and white, that were able to do it. What I love about this book is that its about starting a conversation they didn’t want to have back then and we need to keep having now.