Apr 17, 2011

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

Set in the early 1960's, The Help is a story of several well-to-do white ladies and their black maids. It's narrated in turn by Skeeter- a young lady recently returned from college and constantly pestered by her mother to find a husband, Aibileen- a black maid devoted to the white children she raises, and her sassy friend Minny who just lost her job for talking back to her boss and now works for a reclusive woman on the edge of town. Skeeter is not quite like her friends; she wants more out of life than just spending her days shopping or attending bridge club. She wants to be a writer. Coming home to find that the maid Constantine who raised her is gone (and no one will tell her what happened), she starts asking questions of her friends' maids and starts to see the injustice in the relationships between the black and white women. She gets the idea to interview the maids and write their stories into a book. At first no one will talk openly to her; all the maids are terrified of the repercussions if they actually admit to what goes on behind closed doors. But one by one they start to come forward and share their stories...

This was a really good read. I've seen tons of reviews about it all over the place (don't feel like I really have much to add) but it wasn't until a friend put a copy into my hand that I thought to read it myself. I was a bit speculative (as I often am of wildly-popular books) but once I got through the first chapter I couldn't stop reading. The depiction of how these women's lives intertwined is riveting. Some are kind, some shallow, some downright mean. I admit I didn't really feel attached to too many of the characters; none of them felt very well-rounded, but I was more intrigued by the storyline and seeing what was going to happen. From the very beginning several large secrets started looming through the story and I was waiting for their revelations, ticking them off mentally when they appeared: so that's what happened to her, now what about this other bit? and then after all the secrets came out I was curious for the outcome. The ending was pretty satisfying. I was glad of how things worked out. And the one I felt most sorry for was the little girl Mae Mobley, poor child, whose mother hardly noticed at all what she was doing.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 451 pages, 2009

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bermudaonion said...

I have a feeling I'm going to be the last person in the world to read this book and I've had it for forever.

Cath said...

High time I got around to reading this as it's clearly very good. I think I've brought it home from the library twice now.

Jenny said...

I still haven't read this, but I'm feeling more and more like I don't plan to. I read an article recently that suggested to me Kathryn Stockett had kind of coopted someone's actual life for the saintly Aibileen character. And I was already uncomfortable with a white lady telling this story anyway. :/

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this one. It was one of my favorite reads last year.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I could not finish this book. Seriously. I've felt like I was the only person who didn't like it.

2 Kids and Tired Books