Book: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Published: Amy Einhorn Books/ Putnam, 2009
Pages: 464 pages
Where I got it: got an e-book copy for my Nook
Buy It: Amazon
Brief Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
My thoughts: I've heard nothing but wonderful things about The Help since it's release in 2009, so I'm not sure why it took me this long to read it. I don't read much historical fiction aside from books on the Holocaust. I think how much I enjoyed this proves I need to branch out and add more historical fiction to my TBR list!
The Help is set in the deep south during the 1960's. While much of the rest of the country was progressing where race issues were concerned, Jackson, Mississippi was one of the worst places to live if you were black. The book is told through the perspectives of three strong women who boldly come together in the hopes of making a difference. I loved all three of the main characters, but Aibileen was my favorite. Her character felt very real to me and I loved the way she connected with Skeeter. Any scene with her and the little girl she helped look after was so touching.
I won't pretend to know how bad things were in the south during the 60's. I'm aware of the things I've learned from my history books, but I never realized the extent of it. The Help opened my eyes to the many difficulties these women faced as the hired help of rich, white southern women. They raise the children and love them as if they are their own. They try to teach them all they can about equality, but in the end the children grow up to be just like their mothers in the way they think and treat their maids. Skeeter's ability to think independently of her parents and her friends was so admirable, as was the group of maids willingness to participate, although for many it took a lot of arm twisting to get there, and rightfully so.
I can't say enough good things about this book to justify how much I enjoyed it. For a book written by an unknown, white author, Stockett did a great job narrating from the point of view of the maids. Often times I find books written in this style of alternating narrators to be confusing or time consuming but it was very easy for me to follow who was speaking at what point. I felt like each narrator developed their own individual voice and personality that shined through. As I got closer to the end of The Help, I found myself reading slower in order to savor what was left. I thought the ending was perfect because it wasn't completely happy nor sad, there was just the right amount of balance. There's been plenty of buzz about this book since it's release, but if for some reason you've been living under a rock and have not heard how good it is, go get yourself a copy! I can almost guarantee you will learn something from these brave ladies.
My rating: 4 stars