Monday, 15 August 2011

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hardcover, 451 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (first published January 28th 2009)

Primary language:  English
Original title:  The Help
Setting:  Jackson, Mississippi, 1962 (United States)
Literary awards:  Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction (2009), Indies Choice Book Award for Adult Debut (2010), Puddly Award for Fiction (2011), Southern Independent Booksellers Association's Book of the Year for Fiction (2010)
Adult/ Historical fiction

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.

Kristine's Review 

  I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. It is such a unique book told from an even more unique perspective. It is genious! The racial divide in Mississippi in 1962 was enormous and something we all know a little about but what this book does is show (so flawlessly) the perspective from both sides in a very unique story. You can feel the inner conflict and turmoil in each of the characters. I laughed, I cried and was even tempted to throw the book across the room a few times. Hearing the stories of these maids ( although fictional) can give you a little understanding of what it was like during that period for them. I also loved how the character Skeeter was written. She understood and knew that what was going on was wrong but was so powerless to the views of her society to speak up without dire consequences. Without giving anything away I want to quickly mention Hilly Holbrook. Although I hated this character there is something very familiar about her. We all know one. The person that knows everything, is right about everything and nobody ever goes against. The one that will have you alienated from everyone if you dare go against her. The one that can't see any farther than her own head. In the book it is her racism and views on segregation that make it impossible for the characters in the book. I truly hated her.
  This book was made into a movie that was released just this week. I intend to go see it although I can't see how it could possibly portray the emotion as well as the book. I strongly encourage everyone to pick this book up and read it. You will not regret it. I could go into much further detail about this book but will refrain as I don't want to give anything away!

Kristine's rating
Terri's Review

I just picked this book up yesterday & finished it today.  I was thinking about what I wanted to say in my review and then I read Kristine's review.  Sometimes this twin thing is a bit creepy because she covered everything I wanted to say!

I have to second what she said, there was a little something about all of the characters that we can relate to people we know today.  If I want to get deep for a moment, it goes to show that although the times have changed and the issues may be different today, people really never change.  Some people will always be close minded and judgmental and some will always take that extra step to do something they believe in while everyone in between just plays lip-service.  I do not think that there is a single person out there who could not identify with these characters in one way or another.

I will keep this short but will say that this was an amazing book.  I will also add that Minny was my favorite character. I couldn't get enough of her sassyness.

Terri's Rating

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