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The Help by Kathryn Stockett This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” It doesn't matter what color you “is,” these things hold true. Kathryn Stockett sure nailed that when she wrote The Help. This is the kind of book readers can't put down, so pick it up and get reading!

The Help is set in 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi, the home of the three lovable main characters. First is Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, who was raised in a Southern plantation family, but despite her money she has always been an outcast due to her height and liberal views. Then there's Aibileen, a black maid raising her seventeenth white child. Despite her poise and grace, this amiable character hides a traumatic past. Last is Minny, Aibileen's best friend, who has a mouth the size of Texas. Far less graceful and completely without tact, Minny still manages to keep a job to support her alcoholic husband and multitude of kids. Fate brings these very different women together to create an inspiring story of getting beyond a person's surface to find the true beauty within.

Though The Help is an entertaining page-turner, behind its captivating plot and characters lies a deeper meaning. Racism is a very prominent aspect of this novel; this could be a case study on the interactions of blacks and whites in the South of the 1960s. The stories and examples of this deeply set segregation will leave readers in tears, but more importantly, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation of the world we live in today.

In addition, the book has a theme of acceptance, or rather, the lack thereof. Skeeter, no matter what she does, is never fully accepted into the society she was raised in. And within the black community, there's a sad acceptance that they may never be equal to the white families who employ them. Meanwhile the whites are unwilling to accept equality and are ready to fight to prevent it. This is where The Help is most needed: to desegregate these equal people, not just physically, but psychologically.

If you read only one book this year, make it this poignant novel. With its mix of comical and strikingly serious themes, it leaves readers wanting to delve deeper.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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