April 18, 2011
Book Review: The Help
When I first saw people reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett last summer, I wasn't interested in picking up a copy myself. I was consumed by the wonderful world of young adult fiction, more interested in reading and rereading The Hunger Games than a serious novel about race relations in 1960s Mississippi. So, when a friend loaned me a copy of the book, I let it sit on my bedroom floor for a few weeks before cracking it open. Honestly, I knew nothing about the book except that it seemed to be the hot title of the past year. I was craving a good book to lose myself in on a Friday night a few weeks ago and decided to give it a shot. And it was, in a word, breathtaking.
Stockett weaves an unforgettable story of three women, strong in very different ways, living in a world that seems infinitely far away from where I live. But I know that it is a world that was, and still is in some places, very real. We meet Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter, and fall in love with each of them. Aibileen and Minny work as domestic maids (aka "the help") in the homes of society white women, while Skeeter is the daughter of cotton plantation owners and a college graduate, awkward and unmarried in a town of young society mothers.
I immediately found myself lost in a world of old fashioned society rules, unspoken codes of conduct between the family and "the help," domestic maids who basically raise the entire family only to be fired for ridiculous reasons, and women who face and overcome so many different challenges every day. I don't want to fill this review with lots of plot summary because I want you to read the book and discover its magic for yourself, but let me just say that I felt for these women. I cried and cried throughout the last chunk of the book. I felt that I knew them by the time I reached the last pages, and was sad to see them go. The Help is beautifully written and an enchanting story. Read it. You won't regret it.