books · reviews

the help: book review & discussion

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The Help // Kathryn Stockett

rating : ★★★★★

genre : historical fiction

pages : 451

publisher : penguin books

disclaimer: not entirely spoiler free – watch for the asterisks!

❝  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.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

– Goodreads summary of The Help

This book is awesome.  The Help, a historical fiction novel, is a wonderful story of three women all from different backgrounds that somehow come together to make change and impact their community in ways they would’ve never imagined.  My piano teacher actually recommended and lent the book to me, and after reading the first chapter, I was immediately drawn in; it wasn’t the “typical” adult fiction book.  In fact, it was easy to read, and I didn’t spend hours trying to decipher multiple meanings of the text.  I stayed up until 11pm finishing, and I don’t regret it one bit!  Kathryn Stockett truly wrote a moving, powerful masterpiece.  She somehow blended sass and humor with life lessons into a healthy medium.

***SLIGHT SPOILERS BEWARE***

To start off, the plot was too amazing to comprehend.  So we’re in the 1960s, the midst of the civil rights movements, when ridiculous hairstyles like the beehive were in, and women had societies and invited their friends over for lunch to eat cucumber sandwiches.  The men were the…well, “men” of the household, and the children, if born into able families, are taken care by “the help,” a black, often mistreated female who cleans, cooks, and nurses for possibly less than minimum wage.  Which ultimately means the help raises the child, and have a tighter bond than they may to their true parents.  The way Stockett plays off of this and develops it into a harrowing tale of laughter and sadness and joy is beautiful.  The world building throughout the story is amazing.  Somehow, a white woman and two black helps come together to write a book about the experiences of being a help.  It’s really about overcoming trials and tribulations and creating who you are, and not letting the world put a label on you just because of what they see on the outside.

Skeeter was one my of favorite characters; she’s strong in spirit, independent, and doesn’t need a man to lean on.  I appreciated it SO MUCH that The Help wasn’t centered around a romantic relationship.  It’s been ages since I’ve read a book without a romance subplot, and HALLELUJAH YOU GO GIRL.  I never did like Stuart; his first impression had me thinking cringe cringe cringe.  He was never strong enough for a girl like Skeeter.  I also love her momma and poppa; they’re both so supportive of all of her decisions.  Skeeter’s mom made me crack up out loud at times because of the traditional aspects and her occasional attitude.  Aibileen is a much more mature character, and reminded me of a motherly bird.  She is too sweet and kind, considering all she has been through.  Aibileen and Mae Mobley’s relationship warmed my heart.  It shows how children are so profoundly innocent and bright.  I love how Stockett wrote in her perspective.  The slang she used made me feel like I was sitting right next to her, listening as she reads aloud.  Minny is my fudging spirit animal.  When Aibileen was talking to her on the phone about her getting fired because of “pie,” I just thought, Oh, she must’ve thrown one at Miss Holbrook’s face – thank heavens, she earned it.  BUT NO.  SHE BAKED HER CRAP INTO A PIE (LITERALLY) AND HER EMPLOYER ATE IT.  AHH I’M DYING.  At the same time, Minny is a hardworking, caring mother of five.  She is strong-willed, brave, and confident.  These characters clashed in the best way possible to make an epic story.

Also, Cecilia and Johnny Foote had me dying of laughter; their relationship is too cute to comprehend.

Stocker’s writing was flawless and on point.  I don’t think I can explain how epic it is until you’ve picked up the book and read it yourself.  The execution of the text, the perspectives trading back and forth, all the way up to the climax –  all of it flowed smoothly.  As I said before, she wrote simply, making it easy to focus on the story.  I would definitely read another book by her if I ever get my hands on one!

So…what are the final results?

I recommend this to anyone looking for a powerful, impactful read.  Have you guys read The Help?  Did you like it?  Tell me your thoughts down below!

Signing off after the beep,

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