Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Jackson, Mississippi...1960's.   The Civil Rights movement is in full swing, but Jackson is not buying into the action.  There is still a very strong divide between the people that grips society to the utmost degree.

Meet Aibileen: a maid to a young white family and has raised 17 children...and lost her own in a tragic event.  As she goes to work everyday, to clean after the family, raise their young, and whatever else they see fit Aibileen grows more frustrated at the injustices.  But...she can't do anything about it.  Can she?

Meet Minnie: a strong willed family woman who sometimes lets her mouth get her into trouble.  After being fired for something that she didn't do, she wonders if she will every find another job.  She's tired of it all...what can she do?

Meet Miss Skeeter: a young socialite with a journalism degree from Ole Miss and a desire to become a writer.  She misses Constantine, the maid who practically raised her and was one of her closest friends.  While visiting friends, she begins to see how their help is treated and also seeks the truth about Constantine.  She decides to write a book telling the stories of many of the maids around Jackson, a very dangerous thing for both the maids participating and Miss Skeeter.

There's a lot to lose, but everything to gain.

What I Thought: 
Wow.   I have read several excellent books lately, and this is definitely one of them!  Stockett is an unbelievable story teller.  Through the voices of Aibeleen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter, Stockett gives a clear view of life for high society in 1960 Jackson Mississippi and the African American woman who worked for them.

Readers will get a clear sense of what it is like the women who work for the white families: the interesting love/despise relationship, how the ladies come to adore the children and it is made obvious the feelings are reciprocated; the embarrassment about being called "dirty" or being forced to use a separate all seems crazy in 2010.    But we all know these things happened every day.

Readers will also cheer for characters who see that this behavior is wrong, and take a stand to make it great costs. 

This is a fantastic novel, entertaining, enlightening, and perhaps most of all...a reminder of past attitudes that should never again resurface.

Very highly recommended. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Reviewed from a library copy.

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