Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Amy Einhorn Books, 451

"Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who’s always taken orders quietly, but lately she’s unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She’s full of ambition, but without a husband, she’s considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town…"

I really hate to say it, but my main reason for reading The Help was because of the movie coming into theaters recently. If there is a chance that I could read the book before seeing the movie, then I make sure I do. This novel tells a great story about struggle, desire, love and what it's like living in the 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. I absolutely loved it!

Before reading The Help, I wasn't quite sure what to anticipate from it or what to even expect. I had heard that the author was not African American, and that only made me curious as to how Kathryn Stockett would portray her characters going through tough times. She surprisingly did a terrific job, leaving you with enough information so the reader is aware of the circumstances, but not so much negative attention that made you feel sour while reading it. This was not a book that gave me a harsh feeling inside. It gives you a hope of triumph.
I'm one for reading a book that is told in a different perspective, and that was one of my favorite aspects to this novel. The chapters change every so often, switching between different characters: Aibileen, Miss Skeeter, and Minny. Aibileen and Minny both are house maids while Miss Skeeter is a white socialite. The characters are more than sympathetic. As a reader, I was crossing my fingers wishing everything would turn out well for them in the end. I enjoyed reading about the various activities and events going on and how each character would react to something. Each had their own stamp of uniqueness and I liked that.
The writing for the different chapters was interesting as well. There was a clear dialect when it was Aibileen's or Minny's chapter, but when it was Miss Skeeter's chapter it was definitely more proper. This added to the story. What I really loved about this novel was that the stories the maids had to tell weren't all bad. Sure there were some terrible stories, it's the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, but the stories about love is something any mother out there I know can relate to.
Kathryn Stockett did a great job showing those lines the characters had to cross and how difficult a decision it was to cross them. I liked that she didn't quickly have her characters instantly agree to work with Miss Skeeter. With the story advancing I found myself wanting to find out what will happen because that city is surely full of drama. Also, there's a bit of mystery behind Miss Skeeter's own house maid (Constantine) who suddenly disappears and only limited people know Constantine's story.
If you thought about reading The Help there are a few things to keep in mind. Personally, I feel this book should be read by an older teen, maybe fifteen and up. It doesn't necessarily have mature content or anything explicit, but if say a thirteen year old read it, I don't think they'd get everything out of it that they could have. The Help is a wonderful story and something very unique that I hadn't read about before. With a different perspective and a battle ahead, Kathryn Stockett leaves her readers with a heart felt story that makes me travel back to the 1960s and imagine what it'd be like.
Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

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