The Help
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.

The Help Details

TitleThe Help
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 10th, 2009
PublisherAmy Einhorn Books
ISBN0399155341
ISBN-139780399155345
Number of pages444 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical Fiction, Historical, Adult

The Help Review

  • Sparrow
    April 30, 2010
    I have this terrible, dreary feeling in my diaphragm area this morning, and I’m not positive what it’s about, but I blame some of it on this book, which I am not going to finish. I have a friend who is mad at me right now for liking stupid stuff, but the thing is that I do like stupid stuff sometimes, and I think it would be really boring to only like smart things. What I don’t like is when smart (or even middle-brained) writers take an important topic and make it petty through guessing about wh I have this terrible, dreary feeling in my diaphragm area this morning, and I’m not positive what it’s about, but I blame some of it on this book, which I am not going to finish. I have a friend who is mad at me right now for liking stupid stuff, but the thing is that I do like stupid stuff sometimes, and I think it would be really boring to only like smart things. What I don’t like is when smart (or even middle-brained) writers take an important topic and make it petty through guessing about what they don’t know. I can list you any number of these writers who would be fine if they weren't reaching into topics about which they have no personal experience (incidentally, all writers I'm pretty sure my angry friend loves. For example, The Lovely Bones, The Kite Runner, Water for Elephants, Memoirs of a Geisha, etc.). These are the books for which I have no patience, topics that maybe someone with more imagination or self-awareness could have written about compassionately, without exploiting the victimization of the characters. They’re books that hide lazy writing behind a topic you can’t criticize. The Help is one of these.You’ve got this narrative telephone game in this book. The telephone game is pretty fun sometimes, and it is really beautiful in monster stories like Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights because what they are telling me is not intended as trustworthy or earnest. All of the seriousness in monster stories is an impression or an emotion reflected back through the layers of narrative. I don’t feel that way about the topic of The Help, though. In this book, a white woman writes from the point of view of a black woman during the Civil Rights movement, who overhears the conversations of white women. It's an important topic, and I don't want to hear it through untrustworthy narrators.So, I can basically get on board with the dialect of the black maids, but what throws me off as a reader is when the black maid is quoting the white women and they’re all speaking perfect English without a trace of an accent. It becomes particularly weird when one of the black maids starts to comment on the extreme accent of one of the white women, Celia Foote, whose written dialogue continues to be impeccable. Who is this narrator? Why does she choose not to speak proper English if she can speak it? Why does she choose to give proper English to someone else who she has told me doesn't speak it? Also, usually the layers of narration in a telephone-game book are only within the book. In this case, it’s the author’s voice stabbing through the story. I am convinced it is her whose brain hears the white woman speaking TV English, and the black women speaking in dialect. It gives away the game. Even the quotes from the movie have an example of this. A conversation between her and Minnie goes like this:Celia Foote: They don't like me because of what they think I did.Minny Jackson: They don't like you 'cause they think you white trash. Celia speaks in a proper sentence, but Minny misses the "are" in the second part of the sentence. Celia says "because," but Minny says "'cause." If the reader were supposed to understand that Celia does not speak in dialect, that would make sense, but since it specifically states that she does, it doesn't make sense.To attempt to be clear, I didn't have a problem that the book was in dialect. I had a problem that the book said, "This white woman speaks in an extreme dialect," and then wrote the woman's dialog not in dialect. Aerin points out in message 111 that I am talking about eye dialect, which is about spelling, not pronunciation, as in the example above. Everyone, in real life, speaks in some form of non-standard English. Though I have seen some really beautiful uses of eye dialect, as Aerin points out, writers typically use it to show subservience of characters or that they are uneducated, which often has racist overtones. If it troubles you that I'm saying this, and you would like to comment on this thread, you may want to read other comments because it is likely someone has already said what you are going to say.I’m not finishing this one, and it’s not because I think people shouldn’t like it, but rather because I’m almost 100 pages in and I can see the end, and it’s failed to engage me. When a few IRL friends have asked what I thought of the book and I said I didn't care for it, they have told me that I am taking it too seriously, that it is just a silly, fluff book, not a serious study of Civil Rights. Again, I don’t have a problem with stupid books, but when it’s a stupid book disguised as an Important Work of Cultural History, all I want to do the whole time is tear its mask off. And a book about Civil Rights is always important cultural history to me. Anyway, the book becomes unpleasant; I become unpleasant; it’s bad news. If you loved this book, though, (or, really, even if you hated it) I would recommend Coming of Age in Mississippi. I think that book is one of the more important records of American history. Plus, it’s beautifully written, inspirational, and shocking. It's been years since I read it, so I might be giving it an undeserved halo, but I can’t say enough good things about it.INDEX OF PROBLEMS WITH THIS REVIEW"You should finish the book before you talk about it": comment 150 (second paragraph); comments 198 and 199. “Stockett did experience the Civil Rights Era”: comment 154; comment 343.“The author of The Lovely Bones was raped”: comment 190.“The author of The Kite Runner is from Afghanistan”: comment 560."Memoirs of a Geisha is accurate and not comparable to The Help": comment 574.“Don’t be so critical!”: comment 475.“Have you written a bestseller?”: comment 515.“Fiction doesn’t have to be a history lesson”: comments 157 through 162.“Having grown up in the South during this era and having had a maid, I could relate to the emotional nuances of this book”: comments 222 and 223."Minny and Aibileen are relatable": comment 626“You are trying to silence authors”: comment 317 and comments 306 through 316.“Why do you want to read a Civil Rights book about racism and hatred? I would prefer one about friendship and working together”: comment 464.“Why are there so many votes for such a half-assed review?”: comment 534.“Authors can write outside of their personal experiences”: comments 569 through 587.
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  • Joe
    July 4, 2010
    I read the first paragraph of The Help, absorbing the words, but suddenly being caught off guard by the dialect. I stopped reading.I shifted the book in my hands, flipping to the author's biography and photograph on the back of the dust jacket. Staring up at me was this: [image error]Oh, sweet Jesus, I thought. An affluent, white Manhattanite. Great. And one who apparently fancies herself a master at Southern Black Vernacular. Even better.I rolled my eyes and returned to page one, fully prepared I read the first paragraph of The Help, absorbing the words, but suddenly being caught off guard by the dialect. I stopped reading.I shifted the book in my hands, flipping to the author's biography and photograph on the back of the dust jacket. Staring up at me was this: [image error]Oh, sweet Jesus, I thought. An affluent, white Manhattanite. Great. And one who apparently fancies herself a master at Southern Black Vernacular. Even better.I rolled my eyes and returned to page one, fully prepared to hate every word on every page, beginning with Aibileen's horrifically stereotyped "voice" written by this smug White Lady. Look, I really don't subscribe to the belief that one must be a part of a culture in order to write effectively (or even stirringly) about or in the voice of that culture. Wally Lamb wrote convincingly as a twin in I Know This Much Is True (and as an identical twin, I can vouch for its authenticity). Nancy Farmer wove African culture beautifully into her science fiction novel The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm. Mark Haddon's Christopher Swinton character is a remarkable sketch of a child with autism. So clearly it can be done. But I was not convinced about Stockett.When Minnie's first chapter hopped along in The Help, I prepared myself for an unconvincing spin on Aibileen's narrative, a pasty twist of the vernacular that had been spewed out in the first paragraph. That is not what I got. Instead, her character was nothing like the other maid; her own voice was rendered in tough, bitter layers, providing a nice foil to Aibileen's complex struggle between resolve and resign. NO! my brain screamed. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! DO NOT ENJOY THIS!But the pages turned, and when I next looked up at the clock, a few hours had passed and I was well on my way to the halfway point. Dammit.And this was the pattern that followed in the 2 1/2 days it took me to read The Help; I found myself loving it and hating it simultaneously, but leaning more to the Love side of the dilemma. There are countless trite episodes in The Help, standard plot fillers that can be found in both heaving Harlequin romances and sucky Oprah Book Club fodder. But there are more moments of striking beauty, humanity, and humor, even if the ending is a bit of a cop-out. (No surprise that The Rich White Lady Saves The Day And Gets What She Wants.)Is The Help Great Literature? No. Is it a fast and enjoyable read? Yes. It's also a fairly striking and genuine portrait of what life in the south was like during those tumultuous times. And for that... well, for that I quite liked it.So congratulations, Whitey McWhiterson, I wound up not hating your book. And God knows I tried.
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  • Caroline
    September 22, 2009
    I was uncomfortable with the tone of the book; I felt that the author played to very stereotypical themes, and gave the characters (especially the African American ones) very inappropriate and obvious voices and structure in terms constructing their mental character. I understand that the author wrote much of this as a result of her experiences growing up in the south in the 1960's, and that it may seem authentic to her, and that she was even trying to be respectful of the people and the time; b I was uncomfortable with the tone of the book; I felt that the author played to very stereotypical themes, and gave the characters (especially the African American ones) very inappropriate and obvious voices and structure in terms constructing their mental character. I understand that the author wrote much of this as a result of her experiences growing up in the south in the 1960's, and that it may seem authentic to her, and that she was even trying to be respectful of the people and the time; but, ultimately, I thought that it was written from a very narrow, idealized, almost childish perspective of race relations without a true appreciation of the humanity and soul of the characters. And the ultimate theme & message (i.e. "why, we're all the same - there's no difference between us after all!") only reinforced my feeling that this is written from someone who has a very undeveloped or underdeveloped concept of race and race relations in the United States. The author would benefit from exploring authentic African American voices (Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou) and understanding the scope, range and (most important) the foundation of the emotions genuine African American characters express as a result of their journey as a people in the US (hope, frustration, drive, passion, anger, happiness, sadness, depression, joy).
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  • Annalisa
    June 17, 2009
    Here is an illustrative tale of what it was like to be a black maid during the civil rights movement of the 1960s in racially conflicted Mississippi. There is such deep history in the black/white relationship and this story beautifully shows the complex spectrum, not only the hate, abuse, mistrust, but the love, attachment, dependence. Stockett includes this quote by Howell Raines in her personal except at the end of the novel: There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that o Here is an illustrative tale of what it was like to be a black maid during the civil rights movement of the 1960s in racially conflicted Mississippi. There is such deep history in the black/white relationship and this story beautifully shows the complex spectrum, not only the hate, abuse, mistrust, but the love, attachment, dependence. Stockett includes this quote by Howell Raines in her personal except at the end of the novel: There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation. For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism. An eloquent way to describe Stockett's intentions for this novel. I know most reviews will probably focus on the racial relationships in the book, but to me the most haunting statement was that when you are paying someone to care for you and their livelihood depends on making you happy, you can't expect an honest relationship. I did not expect this book to hit so close to home. After all, I did not grow up in the South and completely missed the racial mind shift in the country. But the book isn't just about racism and civil rights. It's about the employer relationship too. And I did grow up in South America with a maid trying to keep herself out of poverty by making our crazy family happy. As much as we loved her, I can see so many of the pitfalls from these complex relationships in my own history. I know our maid was stuck between pleasing my mother and raising us the way she believed appropriate. I know it was physically hard to work from sunup to late everyday and emotionally hard to never relax because she wasn't the decision maker of our home and at any moment she could be reprimanded for making the wrong decision. She had absolutely no power, and yet she was all powerful to shape and mold us. I needed her, felt bad for how much I imposed upon her, but I never voiced how much I appreciated or loved her. I took her for granted. Even though she was paid to love us, I know she did. We were her children, especially my youngest brothers. And yet when she moved back home, we lost contact. Was it out of laziness of our own narcissistic lives or was the complexity of our relationship so draining she cut the tie? It is my fear that she thinks we did not return her affection and only thought of her as the maid. I often think about her, we all reminisce about her wondering where she is, and more than anything, I just want to know that she is happy and tell her thank you. It is so strange that someone who is such a vital part of your childhood can just vanish out of your life. "They say its like true love, good help. You only get one in a lifetime." I know. Believe me, I know.The story is strong and real and touched something deep inside me. I could so relate to the motherly love from Constantine to Skeeter, see that pain in the triangle between Aibileen and Mae Mobley and Elizabeth, feel the exasperation of Minny toward Celia, and understand the complexity of the good and bad, the love and hate, the fear and security. Stockett captured all these emotions.I also loved the writing style. When style compliments plot, I get giddy. I don't always love grammatically incorrect prose or books about an author trying to be published, but here it works because it's honest. The novel is about a white woman secretly compiling true accounts of black maids--and the novel is in essence a white author trying to understand black maids. The styles parallel each other as do the messages. The point of Skeeter's novel is to make people see that people are just people no matter the color of their skin and Stockett's novel beautifully portrays that with both good and bad on both sides. The fictional novel cover is decorated with the white dove of love and understanding. To get us there, Stockett gives us three ordinary birds, a picture of ordinary life asking to be accepted for its honest simplicity. This book is Stockett's masterpiece, that story in her that was just itching to get out. From the first page, the voice of the characters took vivid form and became real, breathing people. I loved Aibileen, but think I loved Minny's voice more because she is such a strong character. Besides the maids, I loved Hilly as a portrayal of the white Southern belle with the ingrained belief that black people are not as good as whites, verbalized as "separate but equal" so it doesn't sound racist. My favorite scene was when Hilly says they have to be careful of racists because they are out there. She's a bit over the top, but if you've been to the South, not that far of a stretch. I just would have liked to find some redeeming qualities in her from Skeeter's perspective. While there are some instances where I felt Stockett was squeezing historical facts into the novel, forming the plot around these events instead of letting them play backdrop, and occasionally I could read the modern woman in this tale pushing her message too hard, Stockett's sincerity to understand and appreciate shines through. She lived this book to some extent and the story is a part of her. Because it's important to her it becomes important to me.
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  • Ellen
    March 15, 2010
    The Kindle DX I ordered is galloping to the rescue today... AND, for all the book purists (which would include me), this is a need, rather than a want. Post-several eye surgeries, I'm just plain sick of struggling to read the words on a page.However, despite the visual challenges, I read all 451 pages of The Help yesterday. Clearly, the book held my interest. However, I spent last night pondering why the book wasn't as good as my nonstop reading would indicate.What was wrong? Most of all, I thin The Kindle DX I ordered is galloping to the rescue today... AND, for all the book purists (which would include me), this is a need, rather than a want. Post-several eye surgeries, I'm just plain sick of struggling to read the words on a page.However, despite the visual challenges, I read all 451 pages of The Help yesterday. Clearly, the book held my interest. However, I spent last night pondering why the book wasn't as good as my nonstop reading would indicate.What was wrong? Most of all, I think it was the book's ambivalent tone. In brief, a white woman, Miss Skeeter Phelan--one of Jackson, Mississippi's socially elite--convinces a number of the African-American maids to tell her their story. What goes on in the homes of the upper crust? How do these women really treat their maids? Though the book would be published anonymously and no locations would be given, the stories provide enough detail so that the premise (that the book could be received as being about Anywhere, USA) defies belief. Further, while having the book's source known might subject Skeeter to social ostracism, this is the 1960s in Missa-fuckin-sippi in the middle of the very tense civil rights' battles. For the maids, discovery would mean loss of a job (with no hope of getting another position) and retribution that could include being falsely accused of a crime (and jailed) or even being injured or killed.Despite the underlying tension and references to violent events that do occur, the book teeters. At times, I was furious and in tears over the effing racism and the tragedies described. But Kathryn Stockett keeps pulling back. It's as though she wants it both ways. Let's divulge the incredible cruelty and violence that black people routinely endured, but let's also show the goodness of some white people and soft-pedal the whole thing into a broader theme, i.e., how difficult it is for two women in any unequal power situation to be "friends."Nope. Sorry. You can't have it both ways. Though some of the women are kinder to their maids, they did not fight against the "separate but equal" indignities that included building a "nigra" toilet in their home or garage so that the maids' "nasty" germs would not infect them, the separate entrances, the substandard schools, the "justice" system that made a white accusation the same as proof, and on and on and on.I don't want a book to make me cry and then pull back and say, "It's all right." It's not all right. If you're going to write a book about this horrible time in our history - and in a country where racism is still alive and well - then do it all out. What these women endured deserves more. Don't put it out there and then pull back and use a Doris Day lens. It doesn't work.
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  • Lola Reviewer
    November 27, 2015
    “Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”Color me surprised. I’m not one to read many historical fictions, especially when they don’t include any fantasy elements. They read like nonfiction, and nonfiction is only good for me if I’m in need of sleep. B-but…The Help is different. It doesn’t only describe the life of housemaids, in the second half of the 20th century, in M “Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”Color me surprised. I’m not one to read many historical fictions, especially when they don’t include any fantasy elements. They read like nonfiction, and nonfiction is only good for me if I’m in need of sleep. B-but…The Help is different. It doesn’t only describe the life of housemaids, in the second half of the 20th century, in Mississippi; it’s overflowing with raw emotion. It doesn’t put every white person in a box and every black person in another… It underlines the difference of thought between people, but also how similar we actually all are. We all want to live our lives the best way possible and be treated with respect.“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”I really felt it, when Aibileen and Minny talked about their work, how they wanted – needed – things to change and how hard their lives were. It made me sad, of course, because they just didn’t deserve the animosity that was directed toward them and that’s why I was so eager to turn the pages: I couldn’t wait to see some things change over there.Miss Skeeter is also an important part of this story. She’s not loud, she doesn’t look for trouble, but she does have a weapon no one expects her to use in her advantage: her writing. She faces obstacles, so many of them, but does she ever back down? No, because when she believes in something, no one can kill her spirit.I can’t believe the author never made Skeeter and Celia interact: they would have connected from the start! And was Stuart’s character’s purpose only to make us see how differences in ways of thinking can drift people apart? He is the most frustrating part of the story, really. We hate him, we love him, we like him and then we hate him for the rest of the book.Never fear, the underlying themes of the story are extraordinary and that alone should make everyone want to read this book. Equality. Freedom. Racism. Respect. They’re all so fascinating because they are cleverly developed and included and intertwined in a way that makes this story such a precious and worth perusing one.I would also like to take advantage of this space offered to me and recommend the movie. Seriously. Breath-taking.“All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.”Also,I'll repeat it,so you don't forget:
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  • karen
    April 8, 2010
    enthusiasm!!! this book and i almost never met. and that would have been tragic. the fault is mostly mine - i mean, the book made no secret of its existence - a billion weeks on the best seller list, every third customer asking for it at work, displays and reviews and people on here praising it to the heavens. it practically spread its legs for me, but i just kept walking. i figured it was something for the ladies, like sex and the city, which i don't have to have ever seen an episode of to know enthusiasm!!! this book and i almost never met. and that would have been tragic. the fault is mostly mine - i mean, the book made no secret of its existence - a billion weeks on the best seller list, every third customer asking for it at work, displays and reviews and people on here praising it to the heavens. it practically spread its legs for me, but i just kept walking. i figured it was something for the ladies, like sex and the city, which i don't have to have ever seen an episode of to know that it's not something i would enjoy. i figured that this book was on the ladder one rung above chick lit. so i am to blame for my snobbish dismissiveness, but have you seen this cover?? what is with that sickroom color scheme? and i hate those stupid little birds. what is chip kidd so busy doing that he can't just pop over here and lend a hand?? it is not my fault for thinking it was a crappy book when that cover wanted me to think it is a crappy book.but this book is good. really, really good. again, i thank you, readers' advisory class, for fixing me up with this book. it has been a long time since i have read such a frankly entertaining book. (if a book about the emotionally-charged early days of the civil rights movement can be called entertaining.) this is just an effortlessly told story, split between three different women, whose voices and perspectives never run together - the secondary characters are also completely believable and are all different brands of repellent, with some token sympathetic characters tossed in for the halibut. i don't even know what to say, i just feel all "aw, shucks, i loved this book" about it - there were several times i would catch myself grinning at a turn of phrase or a situation, and every time i would start to doubt myself, that maybe i would like sex and the city. or buffy the vampire slayer or all these things i have formerly judged without having read/seen/eaten. maybe i am like these white women in the book, taking their help for granted and assuming they have nothing to say to each other because of their unwillingness to talk to them and know them as human beings. maybe buffy and i have so much to learn from one another...then i would snap out of it and remember that my gut opinions are 99.99% foolproof. so for you other people, who need to be swayed by hype - i give you hype. this book's hype is merited - it would be a perfect book to read this summer when you are melting from the sun and need a good story.. this is a very tender and loving book, about hope and sisterhood and opportunity, but also about beatings and terror and shame.still hate those birds, though.
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  • Maegen
    August 7, 2010
    While it was a well-written effort, I didn't find it as breathtaking as the rest of the world. It more or less rubbed me the wrong way. It reads like the musings of a white woman attempting to have an uncomfortable conversation, without really wanting to be uncomfortable. It's incredibly hard to write with integrity about race and be completely honest and vulnerable. The author failed to make me believe she was doing anything beyond a show & tell. And if her intent isn't anything greater, th While it was a well-written effort, I didn't find it as breathtaking as the rest of the world. It more or less rubbed me the wrong way. It reads like the musings of a white woman attempting to have an uncomfortable conversation, without really wanting to be uncomfortable. It's incredibly hard to write with integrity about race and be completely honest and vulnerable. The author failed to make me believe she was doing anything beyond a show & tell. And if her intent isn't anything greater, then it makes this book all the more pandering to the white imagination of what it must have been like to be "the help" during that era. It's passive self-reflection at best and utterly useless.The national fascination with this book makes me sick. It makes me think of my grandmother who was "the help" to many white families for well over 50 years. Her stories aren't too different from those told in this book, but they are hers to tell. If she were alive today, I don't believe she would praise Stockett's book. In fact, I think she we would be horrified at the thought that her years of hard work (in some cases, for some very horrible people) would be reduced to some wannabe feel good story of the past.
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  • Nancy
    December 1, 2010
    Posted at Shelf Inflicted One of my co-workers, a guy who isn’t much of a reader, borrowed The Help from the library based on his English professor’s recommendation. The guy just couldn’t stop talking about the story, so I decided to borrow the audio book. It’s not very often I get to discuss books with people in real life and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by. Audio books are good for me. I was so engrossed in the story and characters that I drove the speed limit on the highway and Posted at Shelf Inflicted One of my co-workers, a guy who isn’t much of a reader, borrowed The Help from the library based on his English professor’s recommendation. The guy just couldn’t stop talking about the story, so I decided to borrow the audio book. It’s not very often I get to discuss books with people in real life and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by. Audio books are good for me. I was so engrossed in the story and characters that I drove the speed limit on the highway and took the scenic route while running errands. Sometimes I went out at lunch and needlessly drove in circles, or sat in the parking lot at work, waiting for a good place to stop. It is 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi. Twenty-two year-old Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan has returned home after graduating college to find that Constantine, her family’s maid and the woman who raised her, has mysteriously disappeared. Aibileen is a black maid in her 50’s who works for the Leefolt family and cares deeply for their daughter, Mae Mobley. She is still grieving for her young son, who died in a workplace accident. Minny is Aibileen’s closest friend and a wonderful cook, but her mouth keeps getting her into trouble and no one wants to hire her, until Aibileen helps secure her a position with Celia Foote, a young woman who is new in town and unaware of Minny’s reputation. The story jumps back and forth between the three characters, all of them providing their version of life in the South, the dinner parties, the fund-raising events, the social and racial boundaries, family relationships, friendships, working relationships, poverty, hardship, violence, and fear. Skeeter’s mother wants her to find a nice man and get married, but she’s more interested in changing the world. Her plans to anonymously compile a candid collection of stories about the maids’ jobs and the people they work for will risk her social standing in town, her friendships, and the lives of the maids who tell their stories. I loved this story! The characters really came alive for me, and the author did a good job acknowledging actual historical events which lent richness and authenticity to the story. I laughed and cried, felt despair and hope. This is an important story that is a painful reminder of past cruelty and injustice. It shows how far we have progressed and how much more we still have to accomplish.
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  • Kai
    April 2, 2015
    “We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought.”My favourite book next to Harry Potter. This novel did so many things to me.There was lots of crying......happiness......sass... tears......and most of all friendship.Read it.Find more of my books on Instagram
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  • Jason
    March 2, 2011
    “It's true. There are some racists in this town,” Miss Leefolt say.Miss Hilly nod her head, “Oh, they're out there.”Law, this book be good! I’m on tell you how good this book be. Everthing ‘bout this book be good, you gone read this book and you gone see what I’s mean. Law!
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  • Salome G
    July 10, 2010
    The story itself: This could have really used a better editor. I didn't understand why the boyfriend character was even in there--he added nothing to the story. In addition, Skeeter keeps telling us that Hilly and Elizabeth are her friends but that's just it--she tells us. We never see why she would want to be friends with either of them, Hilly especially. Other characters were equally unbelievable. All the maids are good people and so gracious to Miss Skeeter, save one. Reading their interactio The story itself: This could have really used a better editor. I didn't understand why the boyfriend character was even in there--he added nothing to the story. In addition, Skeeter keeps telling us that Hilly and Elizabeth are her friends but that's just it--she tells us. We never see why she would want to be friends with either of them, Hilly especially. Other characters were equally unbelievable. All the maids are good people and so gracious to Miss Skeeter, save one. Reading their interactions with Skeeter, I was reminded of Chris Rock's bit about old black men: "I know some of you white people know an old black man--'Oh, Willy at the job--he's so nice!' Willy hates your guts." Worst of all is the particular characterization of Aibileen. I was going to say that it borders on portraying her as a Magical Black Person because I didn't think she had magical powers, but then I remembered the part about how her fellow church members think her prayers are more powerful than others'. The premise: Before reading, my question was, can Kathryn Stockett write this story? I read the whole book. I read the self-conscious afterword. Can Stockett write this story? Well, of course she can. But should she? I lean toward no. This is not her story to tell. I was reminded of Lo's Diary and how Pia Pera said that she thought of a part in Lolita as an invitation to a a literary tennis match and so she had to write it and no, you didn't. And neither did Kathryn Stockett. She said that she wrote this book because it'd never occurred to her what her maid Demetrie's life was like. So she made up the story. And it was still all about the white lady.
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  • Majenta
    January 12, 2016
    "I know what a froat is and how to fix it." Aibileen Clark knows how to cure childhood illnesses and how to help a young aspiring writer write a regular household-hints column for the local paper. But she's struggling mightily to deal with grief over the death of her 20-something son, and she SURE doesn't think conditions will ever improve for African-American domestic-engineering servants in early-1960s Jackson, Mississippi or anywhere else in the South. Aibileen's good friend Minny has been a "I know what a froat is and how to fix it." Aibileen Clark knows how to cure childhood illnesses and how to help a young aspiring writer write a regular household-hints column for the local paper. But she's struggling mightily to deal with grief over the death of her 20-something son, and she SURE doesn't think conditions will ever improve for African-American domestic-engineering servants in early-1960s Jackson, Mississippi or anywhere else in the South. Aibileen's good friend Minny has been a maid since she was very young, and on the first day of her first job her mother admonished her that sass-mouth, especially her degree of it, is highly dangerous--but it's not long before she's just gotta mouth off....and look for another job. As Minny's first "episode" of the book opens, she is yet again looking for a new job, and this time an opportunity pretty much falls into her lap. Celia Foote needs a domestic engineer, but she also needs a friend, a real ally, even a confidante. Oh, one more thing: she needs to keep Minny a secret, at least for a while. I think this plotline was my favorite part. Celia's husband had formerly gone with (even been engaged to?) somebody else; did any of you wonder how they would have gotten along if he had married her instead of Celia?But, really, which is the worse attack from Minny: a good sass-mouthin' or a good slice of her extra-special chocolate revenge pie?Thanks for reading.
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  • Reading Corner
    September 19, 2015
    The Help is a touching novel that explores the lives of black maids living in the racially unjust, Mississippi in the 1960s, by using the perspective of two black maids and a female, white writer.Minny and Aibileen are the two maids who are close friends and like many other maids, have spent the majority of their life cleaning up after white families and raising their kids.Skeeter is the third character the novel centres around, she fondly remembers her own maid, Constantine but lacks informatio The Help is a touching novel that explores the lives of black maids living in the racially unjust, Mississippi in the 1960s, by using the perspective of two black maids and a female, white writer.Minny and Aibileen are the two maids who are close friends and like many other maids, have spent the majority of their life cleaning up after white families and raising their kids.Skeeter is the third character the novel centres around, she fondly remembers her own maid, Constantine but lacks information about her disappearance and current whereabouts.Her ambition to write and love for her childhood carer lead her and the maids to eventually come together and become invoved in a dangerous project which puts all their lives at risk.This novel hooked me from the start as it deals with important issues and gives a unique perspective with interesting characters.It looks at the civil rights movement from a different angle as it uses maids who help in a very different way, as they simply describe their work so it can be printed into a book.However, it is not as simple as just telling their story as their eventual willingness to outline their work, immediately puts everyone involved in a threatening position.This danger lurks over all the maids involved for the whole story, creating tension and atmosphere.The novel switches between three characters,Aibileen,Minny and Skeeter.I loved all of the characters especially Minny as she'll talk back and can be quite funny.Her interactions with her employers and others is a delight to read as she's written so well.All viewpoints are gripping but for me, Minny was definitely the best and I would have prefered if she had more chapters than Skeeter.I enjoyed Kathryn Stockett's writing as I thought she did an excellent job at creating tension,painting an image and giving the characters complexities.The plot was engrossing as there was never a dull moment and no parts I felt needed to be cut out.For me, this was a fantastic book which I thought dealt with racial themes and inequality brilliantly.This is a book I would definitely pick up again.
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  • Thomas
    April 17, 2010
    Originally, I thought this book should have been retitled The Hype. At least that's what I told my friend. I remember thinking something along the lines of, blah, another story about racism in the old southern days? Must be the chick-lit version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Wow. I was so wrong.The Help details the lives of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi, right when the Civil Rights Movement began. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Cons Originally, I thought this book should have been retitled The Hype. At least that's what I told my friend. I remember thinking something along the lines of, blah, another story about racism in the old southern days? Must be the chick-lit version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Wow. I was so wrong.The Help details the lives of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi, right when the Civil Rights Movement began. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Constantine. Aibileen is an experienced and knowledgeable black maid who is currently taking care of her seventeenth child, Mae Mobley, even though she realizes what's at stake for both of them. And Minny is a fierce, sassy cook who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, even when it risks her employment. This tumultuous trio takes the first step in sparking a movement that will ignite fire to the racism and hypocrisy of their small town.My synopsis of the story probably isn't even a tenth of the merit it deserves. I don't want to spoil too much about the book, but the most amazing thing about The Help is its characters. They are so real, so lifelike, I could feel their thoughts pulsing through my head and their emotions racing through my veins. I was angry alongside them, cheered for them, and cried with them.I think everyone should read this book, especially people who are ignorant about the racism and hypocrisy that still manages to plight everyday society. The Help wasn't just a darn good read, but something that has made me reevaluate and examine my own morals. I'll never forget it.Want to read more of my reviews? Follow me here.
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  • Tatiana
    March 22, 2010
    I don't think this could be any more obvious, trite and cliche-ridden. The book's only aim is to make white people feel better about themselves (you know, that same old a-brave-white-lady-savior story you've read and a few dozen times before). Guess it worked. Again. Hence, its bestseller status.
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  • Praveen
    December 25, 2016
    I done finished this book finally !I ain't never seen a book like this lately.it were not too long before I seen something in me had changed, reading it ! May be a seed was immediately planted inside a me.After finish it I seen a small baby in street. She very much like Mae Mobley Leefolt. When I see her, she laugh, dance a little happy jig. I touch her cheeks, she smile again.Then I go to work but find her dancing again weaving her hand !:)---------------------------------------I'll try to righ I done finished this book finally !I ain't never seen a book like this lately.it were not too long before I seen something in me had changed, reading it ! May be a seed was immediately planted inside a me.After finish it I seen a small baby in street. She very much like Mae Mobley Leefolt. When I see her, she laugh, dance a little happy jig. I touch her cheeks, she smile again.Then I go to work but find her dancing again weaving her hand !:)---------------------------------------I'll try to right a review this book, once my grammar restore with me, for now I complete gripped by flow of the help ! ---------------------------------------
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  • Cecily
    July 18, 2011
    This is a powerful story about women's relationships with each other, and how they are affected by race (and class), told from the viewpoints of three women (two black maids and a young white woman). It is set in segregated Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962-64, at the dawn of the civil rights movement, but it's local and domestic, rather than looking at the big picture.The first third of the book establishes the main characters and their situation and relationships; the rest of it revolves around a This is a powerful story about women's relationships with each other, and how they are affected by race (and class), told from the viewpoints of three women (two black maids and a young white woman). It is set in segregated Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962-64, at the dawn of the civil rights movement, but it's local and domestic, rather than looking at the big picture.The first third of the book establishes the main characters and their situation and relationships; the rest of it revolves around a dangerous plan to write about their lives: it ends up reading as if it's a book about how this book was created (though the notes at the end make it clear that it isn't). It is a novel about individuals, and makes no pretence of being a history of the civil rights movement, but given the subject matter, it arouses strong feelings (see below, including comments, for some of the reasons). Passions run high in those with direct experience or detailed knowledge of racial issues in the US. My comments are the reaction of a fairly ignorant outsider.For a deeper, more complex, and educational (for me) way of looking at the legacy of slavery on race relations, see Octavia Butler's Kindred, review here.IT'S ABOUT MOTHERING AND AWAKENING AS MUCH AS RACEAlthough it might appear that the main relationships are between employer and help, mothering and displaced mothering is in many ways a stronger theme. It's also about other relationships, especially between women: bitchy cliques, friendships made and broken, fear versus collusion. Husbands don't generally come out of it well.There is an awkward pact involved for white mothers: letting your children be raised by members of a race you despise versus raising the children of your oppressors. As Skeeter says, "They raise a white child and then 20 years later the child becomes the employer. It's that irony that we love them and they love us, yet we don't even allow them to use the toilet in the house". There are opportunities to sway young minds (and Aibileen tries especially hard), whilst thinking, "Baby Girl, who I know, deep down, I can't keep from turning out like her mama". The maids' jobs and colour also have a negative effect on their own mothering. Not only do some of the white children feel the help loves them more than their own mothers; in some cases they are right, and that causes other tensions and problems. Yet firing the help is not always an option: "the help always know" all the secrets.The three main characters are very strong women, and each gradually finds the strength to follow her conscience, despite the personal risks, to the point where Skeeter realises "I no longer feel protected because I am white". They learn, grow, awaken, and take some control over the future. However, if I were an African-American, or raised in the deep south, I'm sure these aspects would seem much less significant in comparison to the race theme.AUTHENTICITY?When I read this, I had no idea how accurate any of it is (I have subsequently learned of many doubts), but in terms of individual relationships, it rings true to this Brit, especially the different voices through which the story is told. It was also interesting that the maids were so used to "the lines", that they disliked it when they were crossed, e.g. by an employer who was too friendly: "She just don't see 'em. The Lines. Not between her and me, not between her and Hilly". Yet the maids train their own children into subjugation by teaching the rules "for working for a white lady". This has strange effects: "I don't know what to say to her. All I know is, I ain't saying it. And I know she ain't saying what she want a say either and it's a strange thing happening here cause nobody saying nothing and we still managing to have us a conversation".On the other hand, it seems improbable that all the powerful white women in the town are only in their mid 20s. I presume that was necessary because they needed to be contemporaries of Skeeter, and she needed to be young, but it still made me question the story in broader terms.SYMPATHIESOne expects to have strong sympathies for the maids, but a couple of the white women (including Skeeter) have a hard time (not as hard as the maids, though): material privilege, but they don't fit into either world. That creates a tension in the reader that is quite powerful.The saddest white person is the little girl Aibileen cares for; she is a misfit in her own home, because her mother never bonded with her, "She like one a them baby chickens that get confused and follow the ducks around instead". Aibileen tries hard to compensate, particularly by repeating the mantra "You kind, you smart, you important". Mind you, she also sows the seeds future disagreement with her parents by telling secret stories about a kind alien visitor called Martian Luther King who thinks all people are the same, and by wrapping identical sweets in different coloured wrappers to make the same point. "I want to stop that moment from coming - and it comes in ever white child's life - when they start to think that coloured folks ain't as good as whites."STEREOTYPESAlthough the book fits with some stereotypes (e.g. the hideous contradiction of raising money for starving Africans whilst campaigning for outside loos in all white homes, lest the owners catch black diseases), it certainly confounds others, both in the minds of some of the characters and, to a lesser extent, to the readers (e.g. many of the maids are more educated than might be expected and Aibileen is an keen and excellent writer). As Skeeter says, "The dichotomy of love and disdain living side by side is what surprises me", and that was the core of the book for me.LANGUAGE, DIALECT and DIFFERENT VOICESFrom the very first sentence, you are aware of Aibileen's voice and dialect, "on a early Sunday". She is an ageing maid who cares for white children when they are young, then moves on. Her own son died in an industrial accident at 24 and from then "A bitter seed was planted inside me. And I just didn't feel so accepting any more". Is this dialect accurate, patronising appropriation, or both?Minny is the other black voice: a maid and church friend of Aibileen's, but with a young family and violent husband. She speaks her mind, so has often been fired.The final voice is Skeeter, the daughter of a plantation owner who has returned from college and is shocked to discover that the beloved maid who raised her has gone, and no one will tell her why.OTHER IRRITATIONS* My knowledge of US history is scanty and I didn't know when it was set until page 22, though even then I was only able to work it out by looking up Stevie Wonder's year of birth.* Despite being initially vague about the date, some subsequent mentions of period detail seem rather forced, e.g. "To Kill a Mockingbird", Rosa Parks and Bob Dylan. It should have been possible to mention them in a more natural way.* Did anyone say they needed "space" and "time" away from a relationship in Mississippi in 1963?
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  • Lucy
    May 6, 2009
    Gush, gush, gush, gush, gush! I cannot gush enough about this book.The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, follows the lives of three women living in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi. Two of the women, Aibilene and Minny are black, hired as help to wealthy, or trying to appear wealthy, white families. Eugenia, or "Skeeter" as she is called, is a white woman recently graduated from Ole Miss University and trying to become a writer. She is what probably most of us are, kindly ignorant of the world around her. Rai Gush, gush, gush, gush, gush! I cannot gush enough about this book.The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, follows the lives of three women living in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi. Two of the women, Aibilene and Minny are black, hired as help to wealthy, or trying to appear wealthy, white families. Eugenia, or "Skeeter" as she is called, is a white woman recently graduated from Ole Miss University and trying to become a writer. She is what probably most of us are, kindly ignorant of the world around her. Raised on what her mother embarrassingly still refers to as a "plantation" she lived in an environment with all the privilege and prejudice you'd expect from a southern belle. Living at home again, Skeeter doesn't quite fit in anymore among her friends, who are all married with children.When a feminist editor from New York rejects one of Skeeter's submissions, she includes with that rejection the advice for Skeeter to write about what disturbs her. It is while playing bridge with her friends, and she becomes aware of her friend, Miss Hilly's, crusade for every home to have a separate bathroom installed for "the help", to contain the germs blacks carry that whites are more susceptible to, that Skeeter realizes she has found her subject matter.Skeeter is the least developed character of the three but she is the means in which this uniquely uplifting story can be told. Without Skeeter, who at 22, finally and lonesomely comes of age, The Help would simply be another shocking look at the racial inequality that existed still so recently in the South. It is Skeeter's character, and her ambition to write a book that matters, that strips Aibilene's and Minny's blatantly mistreated, funny and irresistible characters out of their perfectly pressed maid uniforms and into each of our lives.I don't want to give away too much about Abilene and Minny, who became women I loved. They mattered to me. Aibilene, especially, is so vividly written, that her voice, her mannerisms... her unguarded moments... took solid form in my imagination. More than anything, I wanted her to thrive. To triumph.As rich as this book is in both characterization and plot, its real accomplishment is that it encouraged me to examine my own prejudices. Racism has always been a frustrating topic for me to think about, as has sexism. My mind has a hard time wrapping around the idea that there was a time when educated people - enlightened people - sincerely believed that any race or gender was superior to another. It seems our spirits must have always had the capacity for understanding that this could not be so, but The Help showed me how such beliefs are possible.Stockett, a southern white woman herself, exposes this possibility with an experienced sympathy. Using a variety of characters, she demonstrates how many Southerners in this particular chapter of our nation's history weren't racist because they were mean-spirited or elitists, but because tradition and bogus science had supported their belief. Foolish traditions, yes, but they were able to be easily convinced that a separate toilet was not only desirable but necessary because they lacked scientific understanding about germs and contamination and genetics. They only thing available to counter such painfully offensive actions was personal reflection and, perhaps, their consciences. More so, and what was really eye opening to me, were the attitudes of "the help", and how their own actions and attitudes were also heavily influenced by tradition and fear - as much so as their white counterparts. Whites, with control and power, dosed out injustice after injustice that was defended by their fear and blacks adjusted to the degradation based on their own learning and fear. Minny was taught by her mother how to behave as a maid in the home of a white woman - what to say and do and how to say and do it. She also experienced first hand the consequences of breaking with that tradition, being fired and blacklisted and unable to provide for her family. The difference between what excuses the fear as loathsome or imaginable was the availability of recourse. Blacks had none. Or very little.I must believe, as a human being, that there is something inside each of us that witnesses the value of our souls. However, blacks, then, had even less access to understanding and knowledge than their white peers which left them with little other than their own consciences as proof of their worth. How frustrating to be human whose freedom is limited by the understanding of others. It made me wonder which of us are like Miss Skeeter, Miss Hilly, Aibilene or Minny. Are we currently kindly ignorant, arrogantly holding all the answers, quietly giving the best of ourselves with what society allows or protecting our vulnerability with a tough outer shell?Perhaps, we are all of them, at different times of our lives, progressing at our individual rates of enlightenment and courage. As Skeeter explained, "Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, 'We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought'."Amen.Now, go read this book!
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  • Will Byrnes
    September 29, 2010
    The Help is a tale of lines, color, gender and class, in the Jackson, Mississippi of the early 1960s. This is a world in which black women work as domestics in white households and must endure the whims of their employers lest they find themselves jobless, or worse. It is the Jackson, Mississippi where Medgar Evers is murdered, and where spirit and hope are crushed daily. It is the Jackson, Mississippi where Freedom Riders are taken from a bus, a place where segregation and racism are core belie The Help is a tale of lines, color, gender and class, in the Jackson, Mississippi of the early 1960s. This is a world in which black women work as domestics in white households and must endure the whims of their employers lest they find themselves jobless, or worse. It is the Jackson, Mississippi where Medgar Evers is murdered, and where spirit and hope are crushed daily. It is the Jackson, Mississippi where Freedom Riders are taken from a bus, a place where segregation and racism are core beliefs and where challenge to the status quo is met with resistance, to the point of violence. It is a time of political turmoil on the national stage, as the civil rights movement is picking up steam. It is also a place where using the wrong bathroom could get a black person beaten to death. The Help sees this world through three sets of eyes, Aibeleen, a fifty-something black woman who has taken care of many white children and is beginning again with a newborn. Minny, in her thirties, has troubles enough at home, with an abusive, drunken husband and several children of her own, but her inability to control her tongue has led to a series of jobs and a series of firings. Skeeter is a young white woman, newly graduated from college, and eager to pursue a career in writing. Skeeter has grown a conscience and no longer accepts the presumptions of the past. She yearns to know what happened to Constantine, the black woman who was so important to her as a child. Skeeter sees the unfairness of the social structure. She engages Aibeleen, Minny and a host of other black domestic workers to tell their stories for a book, hoping to expose the hypocrisy and cruelty of Jackson’s white society. The story not only places the events in historical context, but offers a taste of what it must have been like for the Aibeleens, Minnys and Skeeters of the time. Stockett has created living, breathing characters, people you can relate to, cheer and cry for. If there is softness here, it is that the devils are painted in glaring red, which may be an accurate portrayal of the time, but makes for a melodramatic feel at times. The heroines are fully realized. We get a sense of how they came to be the way they are. While we are offered some background on the baddies, it is not enough to make them as completely human as the three narrators. The Help is a powerful, moving read, blessed with a colorful, believable cast of characters, a compelling setting and an eternal message of shared humanity, a knockout of a first novel.
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  • Maggie Stiefvater
    January 26, 2010
    So, it looks like THE HELP is turning out to be one of those novels that I love despite flaws. Nearly everyone in the world knows what this book is about (as I pen this review, it is at #2 in Amazon sales ranking) but I shall reiterate: it’s the story of three women -- two black, one white -- in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, and how the two black maids work with the one extremely naive white young woman to write a book of their stories as “the help.” In the spirit of honesty, I should tell you tha So, it looks like THE HELP is turning out to be one of those novels that I love despite flaws. Nearly everyone in the world knows what this book is about (as I pen this review, it is at #2 in Amazon sales ranking) but I shall reiterate: it’s the story of three women -- two black, one white -- in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, and how the two black maids work with the one extremely naive white young woman to write a book of their stories as “the help.” In the spirit of honesty, I should tell you that I didn’t want to read it. It sounded like it was going to hit the Maggie Trifecta of Doom:1) Fiction that is Good for You2) “Women’s Fiction”, now with 60% more tears3) Mint Julep references* *I have not been thrilled by a single novel that mentions a mint julep. I’m not sure if this is coincidence. However, I loved it. Despite the fact that the book is massive -- pick it up next time you go by, it’s a doorstop -- I read it in three evenings. It was engrossing, very well characterized and often funny. Strangely enough, two of those are also part of what I consider its flaws. The characters are so reliably themselves that they are nearly caricatures in some areas. While it meant I could definitely never mistake one woman’s voice for another, it also gave it a bit of a Hollywood/ sitcom feel; they were types instead of people. And the funny -- well, race relations in ‘60s Mississippi is not exactly all fun and mint juleps, as everyone knows. But this book is upbeat, uplifting, and ultimately made a bit fluffy by all its humor and optimism. Again, I could imagine this as a Hollywood screenplay in a New York minute. Still, don’t get me wrong -- it’s wonderfully written and easy to love and very easy to recommend. I also think it would be a killer book club book, because there is a lot to talk about in here, and I don’t just mean the Trifecta of Doom bits. I think that everyone who reads it will at least like it, even if it will not become their absolute favorite in the world. And we need books like that. So go out and read it.***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.***
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  • eb
    September 15, 2008
    An engrossing, vivid, funny, and important book about three women living in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. Stockett writes in three first-person voices: 1. a middle-aged black maid who specializes in childcare, 2. a hot-tempered black maid who cares for a once-poor, now-rich white woman, and 3. a white girl who's just graduated from college and is floundering around. The Help is "about" race and feminism, but not in an earnest or heavy-handed way. Story is Stockett's first concern, and Jesus An engrossing, vivid, funny, and important book about three women living in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. Stockett writes in three first-person voices: 1. a middle-aged black maid who specializes in childcare, 2. a hot-tempered black maid who cares for a once-poor, now-rich white woman, and 3. a white girl who's just graduated from college and is floundering around. The Help is "about" race and feminism, but not in an earnest or heavy-handed way. Story is Stockett's first concern, and Jesus God, can she write a story. During the climactic party scene, I was wincing and writhing in my seat, so nervous about what was going to happen that I could hardly look at the page. I cared deeply about all of these characters, I was outraged and amused and upset whenever Stockett wanted me to be, and I read for five hours straight without getting restless.
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  • Joanna
    July 24, 2009
    I've completed 69% of this book on Kindle, and must wait a week to read the rest. Roger is taking my Kindle to Ireland, so I'll be reading a different "real" book this week.I LOVE this book, with it being one of my favorite book ever. The Help is well written and well researched, giving unique insight into the black maids living and working in the southern US during the early 60's. As a child growing up in Atlanta, Lillie Frazier came to our house three times a week. She loved and nurtured me in I've completed 69% of this book on Kindle, and must wait a week to read the rest. Roger is taking my Kindle to Ireland, so I'll be reading a different "real" book this week.I LOVE this book, with it being one of my favorite book ever. The Help is well written and well researched, giving unique insight into the black maids living and working in the southern US during the early 60's. As a child growing up in Atlanta, Lillie Frazier came to our house three times a week. She loved and nurtured me in a way that noone else ever did. She taught me about the power of faith and the power of prayer. I was her favorite and she was my favorite - and everyone knew it! Lillie attended my graduations from high school and college. She remembered my birthday each year, and was always happy to see me come in the door from school. I baked her a pound cake for Christmas each year, and fussed at my brothers if they treated her with anything less than respect. After Roger and I married, Lillie retired. She phoned me every week or so, giving me support and advice about raising my own children. I visited her twice with the my kids before her death a little over 10 years ago. The character of Aibeleen was cut from the same mold, from the hugs and positive words to the indirect but powerful way that she taught me that the quality of the person is unrelated to the color of his/her skin.What a beautiful, appropriate ending to a terrific book. Definately this book receives my two thumbs up!
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  • Suzanne
    January 18, 2009
    This first novel by Kathryn Stockett is amazing. This is one of those few books that grabbed my emotions and interest so deeply that I could not stop thinking about the book when I would set it down to attend to other activities (like eating, sleeping & working!). I was engrossed and couldn't wait to read more, while at the same time savoring every chapter as the story developed. Stockett makes the characters come to life with her scene and character descriptions; writing in the 'voices' of This first novel by Kathryn Stockett is amazing. This is one of those few books that grabbed my emotions and interest so deeply that I could not stop thinking about the book when I would set it down to attend to other activities (like eating, sleeping & working!). I was engrossed and couldn't wait to read more, while at the same time savoring every chapter as the story developed. Stockett makes the characters come to life with her scene and character descriptions; writing in the 'voices' of black maids and nannies in Jackson, MS in the early 1960s when and where the Civil Rights movement was getting dangerously heated. Her other lead narrator, Skeeter Phelan, is a young white woman of privilege who portrays the unintended ignorance of many white people - especially in the South in those times. As Skeeter becomes more aware of the blatant racism, bigotry and hatred exhibited by people she considered life-long friends, her eyes are slowly opened to the humanity of others. This book is now on my list of all-time favorites and I recommend everyone read it for a deeper, personalized understanding of just how far the country has come since the Civil Rights Law was passed, as well as to enjoy a truly well-written novel.
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  • Evelyn (devours and digests words)
    April 5, 2015
    This book tackles the issue of racism (among other things) in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi. I cannot stress this enough but The Help is seriously one of the most important story I've ever read. Since it's about civil rights movement, I first thought it would be boring, depressing and drawn out, but I was wrong. There are so many kinds of moments that made me laugh out loud, tear up, smile, and scowl. I really felt all the emotions here.The story is told in three different perspectives: Aibileen, This book tackles the issue of racism (among other things) in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi. I cannot stress this enough but The Help is seriously one of the most important story I've ever read. Since it's about civil rights movement, I first thought it would be boring, depressing and drawn out, but I was wrong. There are so many kinds of moments that made me laugh out loud, tear up, smile, and scowl. I really felt all the emotions here.The story is told in three different perspectives: Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter.Both Aibileen and Minny work as a maid in the white people's households. They tend to all the cleaning and cooking. Sometimes they even help raise the white children like one of their own.The biting irony of it all is that eventhough coloured maids help raise the kids for the white parents, they are not allowed to share the same toilets in the house because of some stupid theories. "All these houses they’re building without maid’s quarters? It’s just plain dangerous. Everybody knows they carry different kinds of diseases than we do." They are also banned from eating at the same tables, attending the same schools, funerals & hospitals, and also despite their hard work around the clock, they're still paid way below their minimum wages. It's quite disgusting. Never mind the piss poor pay, what about the abuses they all have to suffer in the households? Some got sexually assaulted, verbally insulted, and physically injured. So yeah, things were clearly out of hands in Jackson, but people either sweep it under the rug or are simply too afraid to speak out. It frustrates me to no end.This is where Miss Skeeter Phelan comes into the picture. Eventhough she's white, she's one of those few who disagrees with the 'rules' and even went as far as trying to change how things work in her town by collecting most of the maids' stories (some harrowing, some touching) and bind them all together to form one book: Help by Anonymous. It's one small chance to raise awareness in their town, but she never stepped down despite knowing the terrible consequences it could cause both her and the other coloured maids.Skeeter may be the most underestimated person among her peers but she still rose up for herself with two of the things she's very good at: Writing and speaking out.She made it through all by herself despite the heartbreaks, alienation and obstacles, and whatever happened she still remains true to her ultimate goal. Because of this she has gained my utmost admiration and respect.Then there is Aibileen whose motherly affections made me feel warm all over. It took like 0.5 seconds to make me root for her. Her story really reached out to me. This woman lost her only son in the hands of the 'system', but still spends decades teaching and ingraining kindness & self-love in white kids.Anytime she gets the chance, she would remind little Mae Mobley this... You kind, you smart, you important. Whereas, Minny is a different animal altogether. She can sass you till you drop and boy is she not afraid to strike back twice as hard when someone wronged her. Honestly, she made such a great change when everyone else is too afraid to stand up for themselves. I wouldn't mess with her and her chocolate pies if I were you.So what I'm trying to say is... each of these women are strong in their own individual ways. Their voices is just as equally powerful and sound. This makes it real hard for me to choose my favourite among the MCs. God help me but I just want to reach out into the story, pull everyone together and give them a big fat hug. Something else that brought my attention (and won more of my affecrion for the book) is how Stockett didn't define people by their skin colour. It is true that along the way, I've witnessed cruelty, elitism and injustice on the white people's part. But there is also a shred of kindness & gratitude on some of their behalf. All I’m saying is, kindness don’t have no boundaries. I think the strongest message this book has ever delivered is how it tells us that it is not entirely black and white here. Peel off that skin: black or white (hell, maybe even yellow), and you'll still see red flesh, red blood and white bones underneath. "Everbody know colored people and white people ain’t the same. But we still just people!" 30th Jan '16.WHAT AN EMOTIONAL TRAINWRECK.This book was quite simply beautiful and eye-opening. I'm so glad I didn't decide to ignore it or I would have missed out on a lot of important stuffs.The hype for this one? It's real.
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  • Tran Thanh Tu
    January 14, 2016
    I've gotta say, this is truly one of the best hand-writings I have ever read in my whole life. From my point of view, the story tells us exactly about the life of people living in Mississipi, America in the 19s. With such wonderful eyesight, Kathryn Stockett has created a novel including different characters with their own special personalities which, on a whole, describes a small society of white people living with their maids - the colored ones. I enjoy seeing the characters' unique ways of th I've gotta say, this is truly one of the best hand-writings I have ever read in my whole life. From my point of view, the story tells us exactly about the life of people living in Mississipi, America in the 19s. With such wonderful eyesight, Kathryn Stockett has created a novel including different characters with their own special personalities which, on a whole, describes a small society of white people living with their maids - the colored ones. I enjoy seeing the characters' unique ways of thinking that builds up the main idea of the story. I truly, honestly adore this book since I watched the movie on TV and it helps me broaden my mind as well as knowledge about different lives and people living and working their arse up for a living. But after all, I think that we are all humans living in the same home called Earth. It is true that we have different skin colors but honestly that is not the factor we should care about. We live and eat the same way so why don't we respect one another equally?Last but not least, I highly recommend this book for someone who is looking for a new kind of perspective in reading, who is willing to listen to people's POVs and understand that not everyone is as they seem.
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  • Theresa
    December 17, 2014
    "The Help" is one of those novels that stay with you. I read this powerful book about 4 years ago. The movie is good but the book is WAY BETTER! Kathryn Stockett is a beautiful and gifted writer. This book is funny as hell, emotionally-charged, and incredibly uplifting (I loved Minny's chapters the best). Have some tissues handy, the ending is a tear-jerker. A must-read! 5 stars isn't high enough. Easily on my list of top 10 novels of all-time. "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." Yes, "The Help" is one of those novels that stay with you. I read this powerful book about 4 years ago. The movie is good but the book is WAY BETTER! Kathryn Stockett is a beautiful and gifted writer. This book is funny as hell, emotionally-charged, and incredibly uplifting (I loved Minny's chapters the best). Have some tissues handy, the ending is a tear-jerker. A must-read! 5 stars isn't high enough. Easily on my list of top 10 novels of all-time. "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." Yes, yes you are. Enjoy!
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  • Wendy Darling
    January 6, 2010
    This is not the type of book I would normally pick up at all. My book club chose it for a monthly read, however, and I'm so glad they did! This is a fantastically funny, warm, and fascinating book that I literally read in a day because I was so engrossed in the story. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with all the characters. This is one of the few cases where I can see why the book has been on the bestseller list for ages--it deserves every accolade it's gotten. I've since sent the book to This is not the type of book I would normally pick up at all. My book club chose it for a monthly read, however, and I'm so glad they did! This is a fantastically funny, warm, and fascinating book that I literally read in a day because I was so engrossed in the story. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with all the characters. This is one of the few cases where I can see why the book has been on the bestseller list for ages--it deserves every accolade it's gotten. I've since sent the book to several women, all of whom love it too.
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  • Eric_W
    September 13, 2009
    This book has a kazillion ratings and reviews so I doubt there is little I can add. I found the story and dialog to be quite believable. As someone who came of age during the sixties I well remember the battles, both physical and verbal, between the “separate-but-equal” crowd and those pushing hard for civil rights. We lived in a suburb of Philadelphia and my mother had a lady come in once a week to do the cleaning. I happened to be home from school one day - it must have been a holiday or somet This book has a kazillion ratings and reviews so I doubt there is little I can add. I found the story and dialog to be quite believable. As someone who came of age during the sixties I well remember the battles, both physical and verbal, between the “separate-but-equal” crowd and those pushing hard for civil rights. We lived in a suburb of Philadelphia and my mother had a lady come in once a week to do the cleaning. I happened to be home from school one day - it must have been a holiday or something - and at lunch I took my bowl of soup and crackers into the dining room with my book (reading, not TV, is the foundation of anti-social behavior) while my mother and the cleaning lady (it still is irksome to use that term) ate in the kitchen. My mother later told me the lady said it was the first time she had ever sat at the same table to eat something with a white woman. (My mother had issues of her own, but they had more to do with educational elitism than race per se, witness her early antipathy to our adoption of several mixed-race children whom she perceived to be a less than stellar intellect. This was in the early seventies when cross-racial adoption was still a rarity.)Much as I despise religion, I have to give it credit for providing the impetus (at least in the north, but also in some churches in the south) for the civil rights movement. It was distinctly a religious crusade, fostered by the National of Islam under Elijah Mohammed (the so-called Black Muslims,) some Catholic priests like the Berrigans (much to the dismay of their bishops) and many Protestant ministers. Bombings of churches could only lend more credibility to the marchers.I was attending a Quaker school and remember hearing stories about one family in the Meeting that adamantly refused to permit letting blacks into the Meeting. This was in the fifties. Since Quakers have to do everything by consensus, they could essential block black membership. The issue remained unresolved until the family saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall and moved away.I read many of the reviews and comments on Amazon and was struck by a couple who thought the book demeaned black maids. I found just the contrary, that if any group was degraded, it was the clique of white girls who, with only a few exceptions, didn’t do anything of worth and cared mostly for clothes, boyfriends, and whether a black ass had sat on their white toilet seat. Some African American readers felt the black maids were demeaned by the book. I find many of these comments quite interesting because I don't think the book is about black maids at all. I think it's about a vapid white culture that is concerned with appearances and boys, and make-up and whether their precious behinds will be soiled by sitting on a toilet that might have been used by a black person. For me, the book ridiculed that white culture and showed how one person made an attempt to cross over and understand the other culture's point of view, but it remains the perception of the white culture at the time so by necessity, the view of black dialect and actions must be a flawed one.I loved the scene where Abilene is trying to potty-train Mae Mobley and is in a quandary because the child needs to see how adults do it, yet Abilene is terrified to use the bathroom in the white house rather than the colored one built for her in the garage. So she shows her the colored one which Mae Mobley Leefolt then wants to use all the time, to her white mother’s horror. Yes, there are some anachronistic events, yes, the dialect seems forced sometimes. So what. Outstanding book that reveals the tensions of being black and a decadent and dying white culture in the United States during a period of cultural upheaval.
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  • Amy (Foxy)
    June 8, 2012
    I was invited to join a newly formed book club and our first book to read and discuss was THE HELP. Being involved in a real life book club is a new experience for me. It's fun to sit at Star Bucks discussing everyone's points of view on this book. It's been 7 years since I read this book and I loved it just as much the second go around. The whole Pecker Pie scene had me laughing out loud again. Sadly that part was left out of the movie. I, for one, equally enjoyed the movie as much as the book. I was invited to join a newly formed book club and our first book to read and discuss was THE HELP. Being involved in a real life book club is a new experience for me. It's fun to sit at Star Bucks discussing everyone's points of view on this book. It's been 7 years since I read this book and I loved it just as much the second go around. The whole Pecker Pie scene had me laughing out loud again. Sadly that part was left out of the movie. I, for one, equally enjoyed the movie as much as the book. My eldest teenager recently read and then watched the movie and was not happy with the movie. She felt they left too much stuff out and changed some stuff. For me I felt like for the time they were alloted to create this movie it convenyed the essense of the book. While this isn't my normal genre to read I'm glad I happened upon it 7 years ago. It was fanastanting to read how in the 1960's things like this were happening in the America. America has come a long way but we still have a long ways to go. STANDALONE
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