Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Posted by Caitie F on January 12, 2010

Title: The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Hardcover: 444 pages

Publisher: Penguin Group

ISBN: 0399155341

Rating: +++++

Summary (from book browse): 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.

Why I read this:

My book club read this five months ago, but I couldn’t get it from the library, so I didn’t go. I had heard it was really good, so I kept it on the list I finally got it.

Short review:

Wow! I have read so many great things about this book, so I thought that I might not like it and that it would just be an incredibly overrated book. I was so happy to be wrong! This book is fantastically written and an amazing story. I think everyone should read it to see how things were in the south during the Civil Rights movement.

Longer review:

Like I said, I was really worried that I wouldn’t like this book. I have been reading rave reviews for MONTHS and thought there was no possible way it could live up to all of this hype. I have to say, I am very happy that I was wrong.

What grabbed me right away were the voices of the characters. They were three strong women, all who had distinct voices, which is something that many authors try to do and fail. I didn’t even have to look at the top of the chapter opening when the narrator switched, within one of two sentences, I already knew who it was. What also struck me was how genuine the voices felt. I thought Aibileen was writing her story. It wasn’t a stereotypical or cliche voice of an African-American housekeeper, it was a new voice that felt very real. Minny showed another side of the housekeeper which was also very distinct and very believable. She was opinionated and tough, but she was also broken by her husband and scared of what might happen. She was strong enough to do what was right also.

Then there was Miss Skeeter. I loved reading about Miss Skeeter, not only her narrations, but what Aibileen and Minny had to say about her. She was an ambitious young woman who wanted to do something that women didn’t do at the time. She also saw something wrong with society and wanted to find a way to do her part to show the world what was wrong. I liked that she didn’t do it for her ambition, even though it certainly helped her. She genuinely wanted the story of the help to get out in the world. She was willing to go against what her friends and family thought and she never looked back. I also loved her so much because that kind of character is what I see missing in most books today. She is the character that is between young adult and what is marketed towards my mom. She is the kind of character for my generation, even if she is set a couple generations back.

It was still hard for me to read this story. My parents were not prejudiced at all, I was always taught that we were all created equal. That people think, or have ever thought, differently still astounds me. This book showed that there were people like Hilly who believed that you could get a disease by sitting on the same toilet as a black person. Really? She was raised by a housekeeper like all of her friends, how did she turn on them? How did all of these women turn on them? This is why I loved the lessons Aibileen was teaching Mae Mobley, the lessons of equality and the lesson that she is special. Too many children were ignored or criticized constantly by their parents. At least one had an adult telling her that she was special.

I thought this book was one of the best books I have read recently. I really hope Kathryn Stocket continues to write – she has a talent and I would read her next book. This one book talked about race, self-confidence, abuse, parenting, and love in such a beautiful and touching way.

If you have been thinking about reading it, go get on the list at your library. It is a great read. But don’t just trust what I have to say, check out these other reviews (I listed the ones I could find in a quick search, if you have one, please leave me a message and I will add you!).

Devourer Of Books
You’ve GOTTA Read This!
One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books
The Friendly Book Nook
S. Krishna’s Books
Maw Books Blog
Presenting Lenore
A Novel Menagerie

4 Responses to “The Help by Kathryn Stockett”

  1. Sheri said

    Thanks for the linky! I enjoyed your review.

  2. Thanks for linking to my review. I loved this book!

  3. […] surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? It was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I thought it was too hyped and couldn’t be that good – but it […]

  4. […] 1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett […]

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