Monday, August 22, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help

The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

Book Blurb:
Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town. 

I purchased The Help 100% based solely from book buzz. Way before the movie came out I had picked up this hardcover. I had seen it everywhere. Heck even right now I see it displayed front and center on my Amazon Associates tool bar. I got it and promptly put it on my bookshelf. I'm a cover girl and I really thought The Help had an unattractive cover. Then one of my Goodreads friends read it and awarded it a 5 star review. I heard of everyone going to the movies on Twitter and Facebook, so I thought it be about time I take it down from my shelf and read it. 

I also admit I was putting it off because I am uncomfortable reading about social issues that just make me so angry and ashamed. It's one of the reasons I love my romance novels. They are pretend and fantasy. The Help may have been fiction but it was based around true shameful circumstances of the 1960's. 

I love the layout of the book with all the different sharing point of views. A few of the chapters are written with a main character, Miss Skeeter then another few chapters was Aibileen (my favourite character) and another few were Minny. Each of the sections were broken up perfectly by allowing the reader to  absorb just enough of their life and their current situation. Each of the characters were apart of each other's book sections so they fit together like a masterfully planned puzzle.

Aiblieen and Minny are the maids (the help) and I felt Kathryn Stockett did a wonderful job portraying their individualism. They were most definitely different characters doomed to the same circumstance of being maids to white women. Miss Skeeter enjoyed a fortunate  upbringing that was provided by a wonderful maid and a caring role model Constantine. Even though the former maid Constantine is not an active participating character in the book, she played a major role in the foundation that allowed Miss Skeeter to be the confident woman she was. I like how Miss Skeeter was not portrayed as the white woman activist that saved the poor southern black maids but rather more a woman who enabled some less fortunate people to get their voices heard.  
There was a great parallel with Miss Skeeter/Constantine and Aiblieen/Mae Mobley the little girl she cares for. 

What a scary time 1960's was in the South. I don't know if I could have lived through it and held my tongue. I was born in the late sixties and to this day I've never really personally experienced this much racial discrimination from white or black. It was unsettling for me. It is important that those trying and difficult times do get read about so that we as society never forget. 



1 comment:

Unknown said...

This novel has a fair helping of humor some of is quite black (J) but Socket's real achievement is to avoid making a novel about racial segregation a black and white issue and make it about people, in all their imperfections and redeeming features. Don't expect an action thriller with this one, but an emotional piece with tension seething subtly below the surface.
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