The Help - Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Pages: 522
Published: 2011 (Originally published 2010)
Challenges: 2012 Library Challenge, 2012 Chunkster Challenge, 2012 TBR Pile Challenge, 2012 Historical Fiction Challenge
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Edition: Paperback, Movie Tie-in
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5

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. (description via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this.  I didn't really know what people truly thought of the book and really tried to avoid any sort of notion of what the book was about until I had finished the book so as to escape disappointment with the book.  And hence I was able to enjoy it much more than I probably would have had I either read reviews of the book or watched the movie that came out a few months ago on DVD.  

I felt that it took sometime for the story to start developing and it seemed that after about the half-way through the book, I started to really enjoy the book.  I suppose I should have read it more regularly to get into the book, but when I was able to get into the storyline/plot of the book, I was really able to engross myself with what Skeeter was doing and the impact of what she was attempting to do really didn't hit me until the party at the country club, which was about half-way through the book.   Once I was able to find the rhythm that I wanted, I couldn't help but not think about the book nor could I put it down at times. It probably won't be a classic, but it will be something that will probably be in print for quite sometime, not only due the popularity of the movie that is out and is up for a number of Academy Awards in the next month from the review, but also because of the insight of race relations in the American south in the four years prior to MLK's death. A book on a similar subject, but from a non-fiction view of this era would be The Warmth of Other Suns, which looks at the migration of African-Americans from the deep South into places like Chicago and New York. 

Bottom line: Thought it was an excellent read, but probably not something that I would pick up again and was worth reading.  I would recommend this book for those that like a bit of escape, but also want to learn a little bit about the Civil Rights movement during the early 1960s and the role of African-American servants in the Southern United States.  I am sure that there are non-fiction books that deal with this subject more extensively than this does.  Overall, a very good read and something worth reading while on vacation that has a little bit more meat to it.  Recommended.

Pages for 2012: 2442



Trish said…
I'm sorry I'm so behind lately--just tough keeping up with everything!

Anyway, I'm glad you liked this one--it was so hard to read it and not be swayed by the extreme hype over it. I'm glad I read it before I knew there was a movie coming out (movie is also good). But like you it did take me a bit to get into.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I agree it's probably not a book I'd read twice, but I flew through it when I did read it. I have the DVD now and am trying to find time to watch it. (I'll see how well I remember the book!)
Barbara H. said…
I really enjoyed it except for some of the language. I liked how the three women formed friendships over the course of the book though the other two were wary of Skeeter at first, and I liked how Skeeter's eyes were opened to the shallowness of the "society ladies."

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