The Help — Kathryn Stockett
Set in Jackson, Miss. during the 1960’s and the civil rights movement, “The Help” examines segregation through the eyes of black maids and a white woman, who through the course of the novel, reevaluates her beliefs, loyalties and friends. The main characters, Albilene, Minny and Skeeter come together to exact change though a novel called “Help” that Skeeter is writing. The idea to write a novel on what it’s like for black maids working for white women in the South is her attempt at making her big break as a writer. It is only through many interviews with the maids that she realizes the depth and breadth of what she is doing and the potentially disastrous consequences.
I felt each character was very well developed. You can feel Abilene’s love for the children she raises and her sadness when their mothers disregard them. Minny has stark personality differences as the spitfire maid who don’t take no crap, to the victim who continues to take her husband’s physical abuse. While I have read there has been some critics who stuck up their noses at the fact that the author is a white woman who previously lived in New York, although now she is located in Atlanta. The truth is she grew up in the Jackson, Miss., and was one of those white children who was raised and loved by a black maid. This is her tribute to her maid, who she always wished she had asked what it was like working for a white woman and raising her children. So she is not without experience. She has in fact created southern, African-American characters who are colorful and deep. Meanwhile, Skeeter’s struggle to basically “find herself” can speak to any young woman who ever attempted to separate herself from the crowd and be an individual.
Don’t miss out. “The Help” is beautifully crafted and had me reading into the deep hours of night.