Monday, January 24, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help, Kathleen Sprockett

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. (
From the publisher.)

My Thoughts: 
I thought this was a good read, which gave a mostly accuracte depiction of the relationships between employer and "the help" in the south.  The writer did a good job of examining the relationships she introduced in the book. The characters are well-developed, and there is the right combination of suspense and humor.

I applaud Kathleen Stockett for daring to take on this project and really giving a clear picture of what life was like at the time during which the book was written.  I admired young Skeeter who just finshed college and struggled to fit into the social circle in her suburban hometome.  Instead of following the life her mother laid out for her, she decided she wanted to be a writer.  Her own relationship with her maid growing up, gave her cause to ponder the plight of other maids and fueled the project that eventually led her to New York.

My main focus however, was on the maids and their struggle to survive in the midst of social injustice (on the brink of the civil rights movement).  Though the two friends were as different in social standing from their employers as day and night, there were very much similar in the sense of being devoted to their work and cherishing family and friendship. Abileen is torn between her role as maid to Ms. Hilly and nanny to her daugher Mae Mobley.  Minny, her dear friend and also a maid, is loud and rambuncios......they complement each other well. 

I felt the writer wrote from very personal experiences and really wanted to showcase these women for who they really were, not black maids  but strong, phenomenal women who loved fiercely and stood up for their rights!!  I for one, can't wait to see the movie!

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