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Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: The Help


Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publisher: 
 Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publication Date: 
 February 10, 2009
Reviewer: Ethan

Review: Every once and a while, a book garners such commercial and critical acclaim that it becomes a kind of phenomena. Since its release, I have heard nothing but praise for The Help. As is often the case, I put the book on my list of books to read, and there it has sat. With the movie adaptation of the novel receiving award recognition, I finally got my hands on a copy of the book and decided to see what all the talk was about.

The story opens with a narrative by Aiblileen, a black maid working for a young, white family in Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. She carries a sense of wisdom, as she raises the young daughter of the family, her seventeenth white baby. Despite the loss of her son (he couldn't get the proper care in the "colored" hospital), Aibileen finds a kind of solace through her job, her faith, and her best friend Minny. Minny is also a maid. While she is praised for her cooking skills, her sassy mouth has gotten her in trouble with previous employers, and finds her with no job and a husband who beats her regularly.

Eugenia Phealan, or Skeeter, is a fresh out of college, 22-year-old white woman, who has returned home, to her mother's dismay, without a husband. We learn that Skeeter has always had trouble fitting in with what society, and her mother, expect of her. Upon her return home, she is shocked to learn that the maid who raised her, Constantine, has left the family home, and no one seems to want to tell Skeeter what happened to her. Saddened by the loss of her childhood companion and eager to get a job at a big publishing company, Skeeter decides to write something important. After a chance encounter with Aibileen, Skeeter enlists her and her friends to tell their stories of being, "The Help" to white families.

I found this to be an unputdownable read, that perfectly mixed lighthearted fiction with the horrors of racism in the south during the 1960's. It is fascinating to read about three strong women who are forced to deal with problems that, unfortunately, many can still relate to today. By relaying the story of each main character through their perspective, Stockett provides beautifully imagined insight into the minds of these progressive women. In knowing the history of this time period an the violence it entailed, there was and underlying sense of suspense throughout the entire story. A kind of To Kill A Mocking Bird for modern audiences, The Help is a book that demands to be read by all.

3 comments:

jass said...

Such a nice post!

Helping Hands

Brittany said...

I absoultely adored the movie and have been thinking about picking up the book! Nice review :)

Ethan said...

Thanks Brittany! I thought the movie really did justice to the story in the book.

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