The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Release Date: February 10, 2009
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon
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.
There are not many books that leave me rendered speechless at the conclusion, but I can honestly say that The Help did just that. The book is set in Mississippi during the 1960s in a time where segregation was the norm. The book is narrated by three vastly different women. Miss Skeeter who is a white woman who is interested in the plight of these colored ladies who are employed by various white families, Aibileen who reminds me a lot of my grandmother with her wisdom and courage, and then Minny, the one with the spunk. Miss Skeeter convinces the maids of Jackson, MS to tell their stories of working for white families, the way they were treated, their relationships with the children, etc. Each of these women put their lives at risk to tell their stories.
I absolutely can not recommend this book enough. If you haven't had the privilege of reading it yet, you must rush out to the nearest bookstore, library, or online resource and get it IMMEDIATELY. Kathryn Stockett does an amazing job with the character development and I grew to love each of these characters in ways that I haven't loved characters before. I grew to love and admire the courage and wisdom of Aibileen. She was such a loving, gracious character who really tried to teach her "children" compassion, love, and understanding. Minny provided comic relief at some points in the story, but you grew to feel love for her as well. She was spunky, but she was strong willed.
The relationships between white children and their black maids was heartwarming, because children truly see no color boundaries. Miss Skeeter even remembers fondly her own maid growing up, Constantine. The relationship between Miss Skeeter and Constantine is very similar to the relationship between Aibileen and Mae Mobley.
All I have to say is READ THE BOOK ALREADY! You won't be disappointed.