The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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The Help. A #1 New York Times Bestseller that has touched the lives of millions. This story is based during Civil Rights Movement, in Jackson, Mississippi. The heart of the South. It was a hard time for people of color, but far better than being slaves. The courageous maids of Jackson challenge the rights of colored people, by publishing a book which brought a small ray of hope and equality. These maids are known as “The Help,” and they’ve spent all their years, since they were old enough to work, tending to white households. They raised children, cleaned houses, and cooked, making sure that their employer was happy. Skeeter (Eugenia) Phelan, decides to jumpstart her career by writing a book about the colored maids for Jackson. It is a bold and risky move, but he wants to get noticed, and she wants better lives for these women. Originally only Aibileen, maid of Elizabeth Leefolt, agreed, but after a close friend was arrested for burglary and placed in a Penitentiary, all the maids agree to share their stories about working for “the white folk.” They know the risks of talking about their employers, which could include being arrested, fired, beaten, and threatened by the KKK. The bravery of these women lead to extraordinary changes both within themselves, and the rest of Jackson, they finally have a say. People Magazine says, “Wise, poignant… You’ll catch yourself cheering out loud.” This story truly intrigues you, the drama and risk taking keeps you on your toes, and you’ll find yourself living in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1960’s.

From the first page of the book, the author immediately caught my attention. “Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August 1960…. Taking care a white babies, that’s what I do, along with all the cookin’ and cleanin’.” From this I could tell that Aibileen was a colored maid, knowing a lot of background information on the Civil Rights Movement. Also, the author makes the book come alive by writing the book with certain accents for her characters. When any of them spoke, I heard their voice in my head, and combines with the amazing detail, they all came alive in a mental movie. I SAW Aibileen and I HEARD her. The layout of the book keeps the reader updated on all the main characters, Aibileen, Minny (another colored maid) and Skeeter. By doing this, the author gets many different perspectives on the same situation. This gives the opportunity for a fuller understanding of the story, and will fulfill every reader’s hunger to know. All these elements together made for a perfect story.

Risk was another big part of The Help. Without risk, there would be no story. All the maids who contributed to the writing of Skeeter’s book (which is indeed called “The Help”) were willing to risk everything they had, just to get their word out. “You know what’ll happen if people catch us?...I’d have guns pointing at my house.”- Minny. This quote from Minny show the reluctancy of the maids, not because they didn’t want to, but because they were afraid. If they got caught they could easily be killed for interaction with whites and for speaking out. All the maids felt the same way as Minny, but that thirst for freedom and justice gives them the drive to risk their lives. “We want to show people your perspective...so people might understand what it’s like from your side. We- we hope it might change some things around here.”- Skeeter.

The imagery in this book was incredible. I could picture exactly what the author was trying to convey. “I watch her grow smaller and smaller down the long hall, clutching her handbag, knowing I should turn and run. But before I do, I wonder at how frail and inconsequential my mother has become…now there seems to be… less of her.” -Skeeter. “ The sun shining. Mae Mobley’s setting in the middle of that pool in bathing bottoms…But I got my eye on the ladies too. I been noticing how Miss Hilly act all sweet and happy when she talk to Heather and William, but ever time she turn to Miss Leefolt, she got a sneer on her face.- These are a few excepts from the book that show the author’s thought and descriptions in writing the novel. Kathryn Stockett really made this book become an adventure. Every person, every setting, every word, made the whole story seem real. I pictured myself in the 60’s fighting through alongside these women. I felt their relief, happiness, heartbreak, and pain. This is one of the many books that I’ve read that engaged me so much that I can’t put it down. All the thought and detail is what contributed the most, in my opinion, to the story.

I believe that this is one of the greatest books I have ever read, and my time reading it was well spent. I think it has great potential to become a classic. I would recommend this book to all people over the age of 13 (for some mild language and very descriptive scenes involving blood). Who needs to see the movie? The author is showing it to you for free when you read this book. Although this book does have a movie, the book is very worthwhile, and in my opinion, is better than the book. You feel what the characters feel, and you become enveloped in The Help. The imagery of the book gives you a good perspective of how hard it must’ve been to be colored and live in a world where white’s made all the rules, and handed out their version of justice. Thank you Kathryn Stockett, for enlightening you readers about the small courageous acts of the many groups who didn’t necessarily take part in this action, but did their small parts in the fight for equality.





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