The Help: a book review

If you’ve read and liked To Kill A Mockingbird, you will love this book.

And if you like to read a good story, you’ll like this book.

The Help was written by Kathryn Stockett. This is her first novel, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. It’s written from three different perspectives, whose voices are all distinct and clear. But their stories intertwine seamlessly, creating a masterpiece of fiction.

The story is set in the 1960’s, in Jackson, Mississippi. It is two centuries after the end of the civil war, but still in Jackson, the colored people still serve the whites. The women work as maids, cleaning, cooking, and raising white children for very little pay. They are expected to use a separate outdoor toilet, do every stitch of housework, and follow every unwritten code of separation. Their families depend on them for survival. One wrong move could topple their lives.

We follow Skeeter, a young white woman who is her mother’s disappointment, but aspires to be a journalist. Bothered by the way her friends treat their maids, she begins collecting stories from the black servants about how it really is to work for white families. These tales are shocking, disgraceful, and incriminating. Minny is a fiery, middle-aged black woman, caring for her family and working away from home at the same time. Her uncontrollable temper has gotten her into trouble too many times, and now she must carry even more secrets than ever. The story follows her journey to undo years of betrayal, hurt, and mistrust. Aibileen, the quiet and steady character, hears and observes everything. Caught in the tug between black and white, she struggles with her need to tell the truth and to protect her community.  Secrets are dangerous things, as we find out.

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