Friday, July 15, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

"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 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."

Seems like everyone and their mother has read this book before me. But, I always seem to be behind when it comes to popular books. The synopsis of the book sounded interesting but didn't grab my attention (probably because I've been going through a paranormal, sci fi, dystopian phase - which is like the complete opposite of this book). But, everyone I knew who read it, RAVED about it, so I caved in, and added myself to the hold list at the library.

Wow. One word to describe this book. Seriously, this is the best book I've read in a LONG time, which is saying alot, because, well, I read a LOT (if you couldn't tell that already). For those who are even more behind than me - it takes place in Jackson, MS in 1963 - 1964, and how "the help", black women hired as maids/nannies, were treated by their white employers. For the most part, they were treated horribly. The Help made me experience many different emotions while reading (IMO, a sign of a great book). I was angry at the injustice black people experienced, and angry that they were considered "lesser" citizens. I was ashamed that white people actually considered themselves superior. I was horrified at the violence directed at black people for small infractions, or even for no reason at all, other than ignorance. But, even with this difficult content, it wasn't a depressing read.

There was humor throughout the book that kept me laughing in between the tears and anger. I especially loved the character of Minny, who just cracked me up.

Basically, this book has everything - controversy, suspense, humor, lots of will go from being outraged, to crying, to laughing from page to page. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

And I sure hope the movie, which is being released next month, does it justice!


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