The Help (Kathryn Stockett) – Review

The helpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2009
444 Pages

Told through the voices of 22 year old Skeeter,recently returned home from college, and two maids, Aibileen and Minny, author Kathryn Stockett weaves a tale of segregated Jackson Missouri during the 1960s. With a degree and interest in writing, Skeeter picks up a position at a local newspaper writing for Miss Myrna column about house-cleaning and house-keeping for housewives. Feeling restless and bored with her work, Skeeter decides to take on one of the biggest challenges she can find. That of chronicling the tales of the African-American maids that work for the wife housewives in Jackson. Through the riots, protests, police brutality and indirectly effects all of the characters, Stockett weaves a tale of housewives, maids, children and everyday life in the 1960s.

A close family friend lent me this book, and I have seen it constantly checked out at the library as well as discussed heavily on the blog-o-sphere through the past year. Now that the movie was just released, I was able to find time to sit down and read this book.

I love the setting of the book. I just finished catching up with Mad Men on Netflix, and this book is an incredibly read-along with the TV show. It covers the same time-frame and many of the same themes of feminism, racism, and integration of society. I think Skeeter is an incredibly character, although I felt that much of presence petered out at the end of the book. In fact, I think that this book was a lot of talk, with very little action, and most of the climax petered out at the end. I was a little disappointed with the ending, I was hoping for more conflict than Miss Hilly’s petty revenge schemes. However, I do think that the main intent of this book was to induce more talk more than anything else.

Through the three characters, we see three distinct personalities and accounts of many of the same scenes, and the same characters. From the evil that lurks in Miss Hilly, to the generous naïvete of Miss Celia (one of my absolute favorite characters). The 1960s is a decade rich in  social and technological progress, social and political change, as well as a number of civil rights movements that my generations often takes for granted.

Find this book at your local library
Book 34 of 2011

4 responses to “The Help (Kathryn Stockett) – Review

  1. I really enjoyed this book. I just read it recently myself. We went to see the movie Sunday night and it was pretty good, too!

  2. I really want to see the movie too. I love the actress that plays Skeeter.

  3. I just read the book with the intent to finish it before seeing the movie… I have to say I was a bit disappointed… I was hoping for juicier stories from “the help”. Also, some of the Minny and Aibileen chapters were presented on a very surface level… I woulda liked to see the auther scratch a little below the surface and provide more details (which woulda been extra work considering she herself came from the south with a family that had help…). Overall it was entertaining and suspenseful enough to finish, but I agree with you, the ending could have been more climactic and I loved Celia too 🙂

  4. Being from the “deep South” and growing up in the 40-50’s I was anxious to read the book. I am still “out” on my opinion. Not sure about the Skeeter character and Hilly was a bit overdone…perhaps I will see the movie and have a more indept opinion. Right now…..something just doesn;t thinks perhaps Ms.Katheryn may have been out for “revenge”. Just not sure

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