REVIEW: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

A friend recently recommended The Help to me, as she thought I would like it. Well, I did like it – a lot!

This story, which takes place in Mississippi in the 1960’s, is told in three voices: that of Aibileen, a black housekeeper and nanny, Minny, a mother of 5 and black housekeeper, and “Skeeter” (Eugenia), a white college graduate who returns home after graduation and is looking for some meaning in life. The perspective and voice in this novel moves back and forth between these three women as they come together for a daring and incredible project (SPOILER alert!): Skeeter decides to anonymously write the stories of 12 black maids, told in their voice, so that America can hear the “real” story of being black and working for white families in Jackson, Mississippi.

This novel is the story of their creative project, along with the personal stories of these three remarkable women – Aibileen: who has raised 17 white children and dearly loves the little girl she is currently in charge of;  Minny: known for being outspoken and proud of being one of the best cooks in the county; and Skeeter, awkward and somewhat shy, yearning to be herself in a society and among people who want her to conform to their ideals and parameters.

I really enjoyed reading this book, which I got from the library. I wanted to keep reading it to see what would happen next. I loved the different voices depicted, and even though the book was sometimes written in dialect (which I can find hard to read), I had no difficulty “hearing” their voices. I found their stories moving, sometimes disturbing, and inspiring. The only problem I had with this book, in truth, (SPOILER alert!) was when Skeeter published the novel anonymously, did she REALLY think no one was going to figure it out that it took place in Jackson?? In truth, that seemed a bit too much to believe, particularly since all the women were telling their stories in detail and they all knew each other and worked for families who knew each other. Changing the name of the town seemed scarcely enough to provide anonymity, and Skeeter seemed so shocked that people figured it out.

Regardless, I just loved this book and would recommend it to those who like to read about strong women and/or the Civil Rights era.

I give this book 4 1/2 Stars!

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