Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Help (Kathryn Stockett)

The HelpTitle: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Penguin Group
Publication Date: 2009
Source: Book club (borrowed)
Genre: Literary Fiction

Set in 1962, in Jackson Mississippi, The Help follows the story of twenty-two year old Skeeter as she returns home from graduation, Aibileen, a black maid raising her seventeenth white child and Minny, Aibileen's best friend, a great cook and one to speak her mind. When Skeeter finds her beloved maid Constantine no longer works for her mother she is determined to find out why but nobody will tell her where she's gone. After Skeeter's friend Miss Hilly Holbrook announces she is starting The Home Help Sanitation Initiative, a decree that all homes should have a separate toilet for the help, these three characters find themselves brought together to write a book from the perspective of the help. A project that will put them all at risk.
"I'd like to write this showing the point of view of the help. The colored women down here. They raise a white child and then twenty years later the child becomes the employer. It's that irony, that we love them and they love us, yet... We don't even allow them to use the toilet in the house."
I find writing a review for this book a little tricky as I know many of you would have already read it. But for the odd one or two of you who haven't I'll just dive right in. I have been hanging out to get my hands on this book for a few weeks now and I wasn't disappointed. The book is narrated by the three different women and at first I was put off a little by the dialect of Aibileen and Minny. Predominantly because written it looks like there are a number of spelling and grammar mistakes but once you get into the flow of it your brain starts to fall into the southern accent. I think this is the type of book that would have been wonderful to have as an audio book so you can really get into the southern setting.

Here's an example
"I tote her into the kitchen and put her in her high chair, and take the tray a devil eggs out to the dining-room. Miss Leefolt setting at the head and to her left be Miss Hilly Holbrook and Miss Hilly’s mama, Miss Walter, who Miss Hilly don’t treat with no respect. And then on Miss Leefolt’s right be Miss Skeeter.
I make the egg rounds, starting with ole Miss Walter first cause she the elder. She scoop a egg up and near bout drop it cause she getting the palsy."

It was a really pleasant story but if you think you are going to get a hard hitting book about the civil rights movement than you may need to look elsewhere. However I did find it a really enjoyable read with beautiful characters and a fantastic premise. I found myself getting caught up in the characters lives and I feel like a good book is one that takes you into the story and you can feel like you're there and your apart of it and I really felt that with this book. I have to admit I loved curling up in bed each night and delving back into their lives.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the side stories that really seemed to enhance the overall book. We are introduced to the story of Cecilia Foot whose 'white trash' background has ostracised her from the rest of white ladies of the Junior League and reading about her life and back story was one of my favourite parts of the book especially her dialogs with Minny.

I think my favourite thing about this book is that it did feel very real. A lot of it details the day to day lives of the characters and I was pleased that the author didn't simply try and create happy fluffy outcomes. If you haven't managed to pick up this book yet, I can definitely recommend that you do. The characters in this book really will stay with you long after you have flipped the final page.

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The Help by  Kathryn Stockett

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  1. I liked this book a lot and am looking forward to seeing the movie. Maybe I'll do that before school starts up again....

  2. It opens here in September. I think my book club group are going to make a special "field trip" to see this one :)