Sunday, March 8, 2009

38 - The Help; Kathryn Stockett

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, Mississippi, 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 College. 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 New York City, but for now she is stuck in Jackson 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. Abilene and Minny are the focus of the interviews although many more maids agree to participate.


Abilene is a 50 something black maid. She has endured many hardships including the death of her son in a tragic accident. Despite this she remains kind, sweet and dedicated to raising the children of her employers. Although she endures much discrimination, she tries not to judge people, and to remain loyal and kind to her employer, their family and their friends.


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 Mississippi. 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.


The Help is highly recommended.


RATING – 5/5 - COMPLETED – 3/7/09

WHERE FROM: Library

14 comments:

  1. This book sounds good - I'll add it to my list.

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  2. I've been reading some really good reviews over this one so it sounds like it needs to go on the TBR list. Great review!

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  3. I am really looking forward to reading this one eventually. I am glad you enjoyed it, Diane.

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  4. I really enjoyed this one too!

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  5. This sounds good! I'll be sure to look for it. I really like your blog, too...the color scheme makes me feel right at home ;-)

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  6. So glad you loved it as much as I did...definitely on my list as one of the best of the year already!

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  7. Glad to read another positive review! I have this on my bookshelves waiting for me.

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  8. I really enjoyed this one too, and the characters really do stick with you.

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  9. I've just ordered this book. I can't wait to get it. Thanks for the great review.

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  10. I need to read this soon!! It's one I chose for the Chunkster Challenge.

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  11. I really loved this too, and was very sad when I was finished with it.

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  12. I just finished this one and responded to your comment. It definitely is a keeper! :)

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  13. I really enjoyed this book too. I've posted a link to your review here.

    http://subliminalintervention.blogspot.com/2009/08/what-im-reading-now-help.html

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  14. Had to go and read your review, Diane! Glad this is one of your favorites too!

    -Amy
    Life by Candlelight

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