The Help: a novel by Kathryn Stockett
Amy Einhorn Books
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
I read the 444-page The Help by Kathryn Stockett for my bookclub in approximately a day and a half. That alone should tell you that I could not put the book down until I was finished! I have been reading two other books for a month now and can’t seem to ever finish either one.
The setting for The Help is in the southern town of Jackson, Mississippi. The time is the early 1960’s just as the Civil Rights Movement is beginning. This was such a time of turmoil and the beginnings of great changes for the better in American history, but daily trauma had been and would be suffered for many years before and after this time, and continues to be for some.
The main character’s name is Skeeter. How can you not be sympathetic toward a lanky 23-year-old girl named Skeeter? Skeeter Phelan rings of Scout Finch if you ask me, although Skeeter is a college graduate when readers are introduced to her. Really, I enjoyed almost all the names in this book: Aibileen, Minny, Hilly, Celia, Pascagoula, Louvenia, Stuart Whitworth, Lou Anne, Constantine, Carlton–melodic southern names.
Each chapter except for one was told by either Skeeter, her friend’s Elizabeth’s maid, Aibileen, or another maid, Minny. I always enjoy reading the same scene from a completely different perspective and this always brings out how the same events are interpreted so differently by different people.
Skeeter was writing her first book just as The Help is Kathryn Stockett’s first book. Skeeter and Kathryn seem to have a lot in common and I enjoyed “their” spunk and sarcasm.
I like how not everything in this book ended hunky dory for everyone (as is true in life), and we all know more was to come for the country in in the 1960’s.
Being a southerner, I really abhor the way things were and (in many places) still are regarding race relations. There’s a lot of hate in the world and differences are emphasized instead of similarities. Tough subjects are addressed in this book that still exist (social societies that exclude, arbitrary lines that are drawn, etc.).
I never really liked one of the side character’s story and and found her story discombobulated and not really resolved. Was she the comic relief or clown, or the poor, pathetic one whom married up and was saved? Too many stereotypes were present in her character and there were just some weird scenes with this one–Celia Foote.
It is just sad that so many black maids in the South raised lots of white kids from birth until the age where their neglectful and uninvolved parents then made sure to change their children’s attitudes toward these great women to one of superiority and disdain. Of course, this is never true in all cases and the book exposes good stories of people helping each other or turning the other cheek, no matter the race.
The two most important lines I read in the book were also reemphasized by Ms. Stockett in her epilogue entitled “Too Little Too Late” and they are as follows:
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.
Please pick up a copy of The Help and read it when you can!
–Kathryn Stockett by Kem Lee for the inside cover of The Help