Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: February 10, 2009
Source: Personal copy
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."
Skeeter, a recent college graduate, returns home to Mississippi with her college degree, but education isn't that important in 1962; people are more concerned about whether she is going to be married. To Skeeter's surprise, her good friend and maid since her childhood isn't working at her house any longer and she can't seem to get a straight answer from her parents as to what occurred. One things is for sure, Skeeter wants something more though and gets a job at her local newspaper writing a column on cleaning, which is ironic as she knows nothing about cleaning. Skeeter then asks Aibileen, her friend's maid, if she would be willing to help her with the column and an unlikely friendship is formed. Aibileen's best friend, Minny, another maid, who is known around town as being the best cook in Mississippi; however, she speaks her mind quite often, which frequently gets her in trouble. Minny takes a new job with Celia's household, a new girl in town, and learns that Celia is filled with some major secrets of her own. The three character's stories are interwoven magically and Kathryn Stockett's The Help with have readers begging for more.
I loved how Stockett wove together the three characters; she is truly a gifted writer. Usually when authors do this, I find myself interested in one character in particular, but that was not the case with The Help. I loved Skeeter for her determination and non-conformity. I adored Aibileen for her quiet strength and Minny for her sassy attitude. Even the minor characters had me interested, which is a rare case. For example, Celia, Minny's new boss, is a character that I was drawn to. I wanted to learn more about her instantly. The antagonist in the story, Hilly, was brilliant. She's delusional, simpleminded and someone I loved to hate. I found myself cheering throughout The Help as many of the characters challenged Hilly.
I may be the last person on the planet to finally read The Help, but I am sure glad I did. I found it to be smart, moving, important and extremely entertaining. I read it before I rented the movie and much to my surprise, I enjoyed the movie just as much as the book if not more. (Shocker!) Sometimes you need a break from fantasy novels and paranormal romances and you are in the mood for something intelligent and inspirational. If that sounds like you and you haven't read The Help yet, I encourage you to pick it up this holiday season.
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