Book Review: The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)
Why Did I Read?
I bought this book at a library book sale years ago. I saw the movie with some friends from a book club when the movie first came out, but I had not read the book. This summer, I decided I wanted to read something easier than the self-help books I usually read, so I pulled this off my book shelf. It pretty much took me all summer to read, but I’m glad I did. When I finished the book, I went to the library and got the movie to watch again.
Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
What Did I Think/Recommendation
This book took me much longer to read than I had anticipated, but I really liked it a lot, and I learned a lot from it.
This book taught me a lot about the relationships between blacks and whites in the South in the 1960’s. It really opened my eyes to the cruelty and injustice that existed during that time. This book reminds me of how far we have come in working towards eliminating inequality and racism. There is still much progress to be made, but I think this book and movie helps to bring us one step closer to that.
I really came to love and admire the courage of many of the characters in this book. I liked the way the chapters switched between the perspectives of the 3 main characters: Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. Two of these characters are black, and one is white. Each of these characters provides her own stories of life in the South during that time, and I admire the way each of them was willing to risk everything to fight for equality and a better life for all.
Thoughts on the Movie
I thought the movie was really well done! It followed the book closely. I saw the movie when it first came out. I had not yet read the book, and I did not understand a lot of the little details. When I watched the movie again after reading the book, the details stood out and made much more sense. I would definitely recommend both the book and the movie! My daughters (aged 13, 12, and 9) all watched the movie with me, and they all enjoyed it as well.
My Favorite Quote from The Help:
Aibileen, one of the black maids, said this often to Mae Mobley, the little girl she was caring for. If nothing else, she wanted to teach her this important truth about herself. I believe everyone should be taught to believe this about themselves.
For more reviews on The Help, visit Goodreads.