Help, The

Kathryn Stockett
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. 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.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-02-24
First time I read this, I really liked this one and found it a quick, enjoyable read. My book club picked this one up for the month and I just couldn't seem to reread the book. I don't reread too many books-so just me or the book? While the book club was split on whether they liked it, I realized during discussions just how much it depends on an emotional response to the book. Either you're turned off by the book or you fall in love. Give it a shot-it make work for you. Then again, you may end up throwing it across the room also.
Reviewed: 2017-12-07
This was an excellent read. It was pretty long at 522 pages, but all of them were worth it. It's a great story about the bravery to tell the story of the accounts of the segregation of black and white in the 1950s and 60s and the maids working for the families in Mississippi. The accounts just seem so incredibly genuine and enlightening. I would definitely recommend to anyone. It's a rich and heartwarming story.
Reviewed: 2017-10-11
I really loved this book. I read it in two nights, and only went to bed the first night because I had to go to work the next day. It's a very powerful book, and I love how the events in it add to and go along with the timeline of the greater civil rights movement. The characters are wonderful and believable, and the whole book feels so individualized and personal that it's very, very moving.
Reviewed: 2017-09-13
The Help by Kathryn Stockett is so compelling that I finished the book before I was able to finish the movie even though I started watching it three different times. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960's, it's easy to read and relate to the women in the story.

I fell in love with Aibileen and Mae Mobley before the third chapter. Skeeter is likable too. She's very different from her friends. They are Southern Belles who follow in their mother's footsteps even though they may have been raised by and come to love their negro nanny, they grow up to carry on like their mothers did. Many of them don't know how to care for themselves, their household or their children. They have 'the help' for that.

The help cleans the house from top to bottom, makes the meals, does the shopping, the wash and ironing and not only cares for the children, but is often responsible for their early education. They also put up with their employers because they have to. That's the way it is if they want to keep their jobs.

No one knows that better than Minnie, and yet she's the one who has the hardest time holding her tongue. I especially liked the Miss Celia character, the woman who Minnie works for. In the book, she seemed very sweet and innocent even though she dressed like Marilyn Monroe.

When Miss Skeeter quietly approaches Aibileen asking to interview her for a book on what it feels like to work for these white women, it's a big risk for them to be seen talking to one another. Over time, they find a way that works and the book is in progress.

When the book comes out, even though all the names have been changed, there is a lot of suspicion. Will the insurance Minnie talked them into putting into the book work? Everyone is on pins and needles waiting for Miss Hilly to read it and see what happens next.

An amazing first book for this author!
Reviewed: 2017-08-29
Book Description Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. 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. Editorial Reviews From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.) Copyright ® Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Bookmarks Magazine In writing about such a troubled time in American history, Southern-born Stockett takes a big risk, one that paid off enormously. Critics praised Stockett's skillful depiction of the ironies and hypocrisies that defined an era, without resorting to depressing or controversial clich√©s. Rather, Stockett focuses on the fascinating and complex relationships between vastly different members of a household. Additionally, reviewers loved (and loathed) Stockett's three-dimensional characters--and cheered and hissed their favorites to the end. Several critics questioned Stockett's decision to use a heavy dialect solely for the black characters. Overall, however, The Help is a compassionate, original story, as well as an excellent choice for book groups.
Reviewed: 2017-02-09
I loved this book. I raced through it in four days and it was as good as my friends and sister said it was. It reads as a lighter, entertaining novel, but after sitting with it some more - you realize how deftly Stockett explored a lot of complex ideas.

My one complaint deals with the end, so rest is spoiler.

I felt like Stockett, for whatever reason (boredom, pressure, etc) rushed through the last chapters when the book comes out. I remember that we kind of wrap up Skeeter's and Minny's threads all at once - and then a few pages later we've wrapped up Aibelene's - and the book ends. I wanted more time with the book being released and the untangling that environment, and less time probably with the "hurry up and wait" once the writing was finished.

I also feel like the Minny/Celia relationship just kind of ended oddly too. One minute Minny is confiding in Celia, Celia thanks her - and that's the last we see of them talking. I would have loved that to have had some more. Especially more Celia. The drama between her and the other Jackson housewives was more interesting to me than the drama between Skeeter and Hilly, which got most of the attention.
Reviewed: 2017-02-08
4.45
Reviewed: 2017-01-02
One-dimensional, badly written book The Help follows the lives of the black maids in the 1960's South working in the households of their rich white employers. It also follows the journey of Skeeter, a white college graduate who dreams of becoming a writer but whose mother wants to marry off.
 
We follow Skeeter's path of what it's like to live in such an era, where she is asked by one of her mother's friends to place an ad in a local paper to tout the benefits of building separate bathrooms for the "colored help." Skeeter is appalled and asks Aibileen, one of the domestic workers, if the latter would like to see change.
 
Eventually Skeeter gets hired by a paper and encourages Aibileen to tell her story, so Skeeter can write about the conditions she and the other workers face. Initially reluctant, Aibileen decides to tell her story.
 
I had this on my "to-read" list for awhile, ever since I had seen the movie. And I have to say, overall the acting performances and writing of the movie are actually lifted the original material. The book's characters are all one-dimensional: Aibileen, Minny and the other workers seem (most, but not all) to have no flaws, the white people of the town (most, but not all) are often dreadful, awful people.
 
Although I am not from the South and don't know anyone from there (or anywhere) who had "help," it seemed the author tried to capture the voice of a domestic worker at this time, along with the culture and setting. That said, I don't know how well she actually managed to capture the *experience* of being a domestic worker in such a time and place. As I said, all the characters seemed one-dimensional and perhaps the author did not want to touch the deeper issues of racism, classicism, etc. that are important to a story like this.
 
A lot of other reviews hit what bothers me: it really isn't Stockett's story to tell. Supposedly she grew up in a household that had "help" and has been closely likened to Skeeter. This is perhaps not a surprise since Skeeter is arguably Stockett's "heroine" even though it's Aibileen's and Minny's and others' stories.
 
Which will change one's perspective: Stockett may have lived *with* the help and observed these women, but she can't possibly know what it's like to actually *be* someone in Abileen's or Minny's position. Would people have read this if had been written by an actual domestic worker from this time? Sadly, I doubt it (or at least it would not have gotten the wide-spread attention it has). But I don't see how such a cliche-filled, badly written book could possibly do such a story justice.  
Reviewed: 2016-12-17
Simple sober and excellent! Its a book which forces you to read it nonstop. Amazing. Next classic. All the characters and stories are well connected and YES she starts the new chapter at a point where you feel like skipping few pages and want to find out what happened with the character of the last chapter.
Reviewed: 2016-11-01
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