Book Review, The Help
Written By: Kathryn Stockett
Reviewed By: Brigid Godfrey, teen writer
The historical fiction novel The Help follows three people as they take a journey to expose the truth about the silenced topic of domestic maids in Mississippi.
It is written in the first person from the three perspectives of Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Minny and Aibileen are black maids and Skeeter is a white socialite. This novel is well written with a gripping plot, original events, wonderful characters, and a fabulous tangle of humor, romance, and drama.
The book starts out describing what Jackson, Mississippi is like in 1962, at the peak of the civil rights movement. Aibileen shows us a day in her life and then Minny shows us a day in hers. Next Skeeter tells us what it's like to be an unmarried white socialite with goals other than marriage.
They walk us through their lives providing commentary and thoughts on the goings on. Skeeter first gets to know Aibileen because she needs help writing the Miss Merna column in the Jackson Journal, an advice column on house-keeping. Skeeter knows nothing about housekeeping so she enlists Aibileen for help.
As Skeeter delves farther and farther into Aibileen’s life she begins to learn what it is like to be a black maid. She gets the idea to write a book with stories about being a maid in Mississippi. This is extremely risky to do because it is very dangerous to go against the norm at this period of time.
Aibileen is very reluctant at first but then agrees to help Skeeter. Aibileen gets the help of Minny. As the novel progresses, things become increasingly difficult for the three of them as they are shunned by everyone they know. They eventually get enough maids to write the book.
This book is a collection of stories where each maid has a chapter, all stories are told, and none are edited. They choose to use fake names and a false town but decided to have the state be Mississippi. The civil rights movement gets more and more difficult as time goes on but the three women keep hoping for a better tomorrow.
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Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013