I had heard a ton of excellent things about “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett, but I was hesitant to read the book. So often, I don’t actually like books that are popular. But when I found a paperback copy that was written in English, but published in Italy , I couldn’t resist buying it. That’s just way too cool. I had several friends tell me, “You have to read this book.” So, I broke down and did. I finished it in two days. It’s amazing.
“The Help” is a novel about racism, friendship, and what it was like to be living life in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. The book flips back and forth between narrators – from Aibileen, a black maid for a white family who is wise, to Minny, another black maid who has a temper and can’t keep her mouth shut, to Miss Skeeter, a white lady in her 20s who grew up with black maids and finally realizes the horrible way that the blacks are treated.
All three women have very different outlooks on life, but one thing in common – they understand that the way blacks are treated is wrong. They decide to write a book chronicling the black maids’ lives in Jacksonville – everything about raising white children, cleaning, having separate bathrooms, and even having family members beaten and blinded because of a misunderstanding. This book even hit upon the horrible practices that doctors (both black and white) did during this time, not understanding what they were doing.
One moment you’ll be laughing out loud about something Minny said and the next minute you’ll be crying your eyes out. The characters are something special – ones that you want to be your friends. Both the reader and the characters even have a common enemy– the evil Hilly. As I was reading the ending, I felt like my friendships with the characters were ending. This is the type of book that grabs somewhere deep inside you and holds on really tightly.
I definitely side among the popular crowd with this book. You have to read it!
So, if you like “The Help,” you might also like . . . “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd; “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout; “Water for Elephants” by Sarah Gruen; “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Happy Reading! Sincerely, Kristen B.