Author: Kathryn Stockett
Date of Publication: February 10, 2010
Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book
Synopsis: In 1962 Mississippi Aibileen is a black maid spending her days raising white children and doing the mundane chores of a white household. After her son Treelore died Abileen has been feeling more and more bitterness toward the white families that she works for. Her friend Minny has been fired on more than one occasion because of her tendency to sass white women and jobs are slowly running out in Jackson. The daughter of white plantation owners, Skeeter has just returned from college determined to make a name for herself in journalism, when she comes home to find her beloved black maid, Constantine, gone she is devastated. Between the three of them there is one common dream, the hope for change. When Skeeter approaches Aibileen asking her to share her experiences as a maid for a book she wants to write Aibileen is scared but she and Minny team up with Skeeter to write the book, and make the change they have been dreaming of.
After I saw the movie version of The Help I knew I had to read the book. Despite being something that I would not normally pick up I absolutely loved this novel. From the horribly cruel and racist Miss Hilly to sassy Minny and her abusive husband every character had a unique and resounding personality, opening my eyes to the plight of black women in the south during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
One of the things I love most about the characters in this novel was that none of them were perfect, each of them had their own fatal flaw, a little something that made them seem more real and relatable. Minny's desire for revenge, Skeeter's blindness when it came to Stuart, Aibileen's initial inability to stand up for herself, all came together to make The Help an extraordinary story of three very real women. Even Miss Hilly wasn't all evil, despite being a racist and cruel boss she was a wonderful mother to her children.
The Help really opened my eyes to the struggles of black women and the idea of racism. I really started thinking about what racism really was and what the motivation behind it was. To us the idea of black racism is a shocking thought, now African Americans are given every opportunity white individuals are given, however in the 1960's people weren't as accepting, even making up lies about how different black and white people are.
I have read about Civil Rights and racism in history text books my whole life but The Help really made this time period seem real to me. I was able to understand what these women really put up with through an original and interesting view point. The Help has, in every way, the makings of a classic that will one day be read in classrooms across the nation.
I loved this novel, from wise and strong Aibileen to the racist and controlling Miss Hilly with the whole town under her thumb. I would recommend this book to anybody and everybody, definitely an eye opening look at a dark time in our nation's history. Highly recommended!