Came out: February 10, 2009
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Source: hardcover from Amazon
Age group: Adult (although teens can be interested as well)
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.
To be honest, when my mom gave me this book (the problem with going on trips is that I always run out of books halfway through; I’m a really fast reader), I was expecting it to be very boring. Seriously? I was just looking for something to read on the plane ride.
Much to my surprise, I found myself eagerly reading this book after I cracked open the first page. The history, the characters, the turmoil, it was all fantastic. I loved it! I thought that the characters had depth, the story was an intriguing one, and I could honestly find no faults with this book.
I realize that this is an adult book, but I feel that young adults may be interested in this one as well. I know that a lot of people love this book (now including me) and for a good reason. This book brings to light things that Americans have overcome and it presents the story in a great way. I loved the alternating points of view; I felt that it worked very well for this book.
I must admit that I’m a sucker for books that take place in the South. This one, Beautiful Darkness, The Magnolia League, all of them were great. Those were paranormal, though; The Help is historical fiction.
Although I haven’t reread this book many times, each time that I have reread it has been just as satisfying as the former.
Recommended for anybody who loves: Southern novels, books in the 1960s, historical books, cultural books, etc,.
Possible book club questions:
Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?
How much of a person’s character do you think is shaped by the times in which they live?
The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
Note: The book club questions for this novel are taken from www.readinggroupguides.com