The Help, by Kathryn Stockett is a simply amazing debut novel that hooked me from the first chapter. It is sure to be one of my favorites for 2009.
The story takes place in
, Jackson , in the early 1960s. It is a story about the lives of black maids and the white women who employ them. It is also a story filled with hope, about (3) remarkable women set in difficult times. The voices are perfect pitch and even though the story deals with a serious topic, there is much humor for the reader to enjoy, and lessons to be learned by all.
We meet Eugenia Phelan (AKA ...Skeeter) who just graduated from
Ole Miss . Skeeter is back home living with her parents and she is bored with her friends. Her dream is to become a writer, and to move to College , but for now she is stuck in New York City writing for the Junior League’s Newsletter. Her mother, however, has other dreams for Skeeter: to find her a rich husband from a good Southern family. Skeeter is tall, a bit socially awkward, but she is very sensitive. Realizing how badly the black maids ---“The Help” are treated by their white employers, she comes up with an idea to interview and write about the black maids in Jackson and their relationships with their white employers. This is a dangerous project that must be kept secret, but one that has the potential of changing the lives of so many. To Skeeter it is worth the risk, and it just may be her ticket out of Jackson and off to New York City if she succeeds. Jackson and Minny are the focus of the interviews although many more maids agree to participate. Abilene
Minny is another black maid who has had many jobs. She is angry and bitter and she finds it hard to keep quiet about some of the discrimination she has seen. Minny cannot seem to follow her mother's advice which was preached to her. The (7) rules which can pretty much be summed up by “keep your mouth shut when it comes to white folks business”.
I don't want to say too much more, except to say that this is one of those books that will make you sad when you have turned the final page. The characters and story will live on in your memory long after you've finished this book. I found myself putting sticky notes throughout so I could reread certain parts.
I found it interesting that this story in part was inspired by the author’s own life growing up in
. Her family had a black maid named Demetrie. The maid died when the author was 16, and she never got to ask her how she felt about being black and working for a white family in Mississippi . Mississippi
The Help is highly recommended.
RATING – 5/5 - COMPLETED –
WHERE FROM: Library