The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Help by Kathryn Stockett is the story of racial segregation in the 1960’s, and one woman’s attempt to expose the hypocrisy.
When 22-year old Skeeter returns home to her parents small farm outside of Jackson after graduating from The University of Mississippi, her goal is to become a writer. Her mothers goal is to convince her to marry and settle down.
When Skeeter asks where Constantine was, her mother told her that their black maid (and Skeeter’s lifelong companion) went back to Chicago to live with her family. Skeeter is suspicious, since Constantine had written to her about having some news to share when she came home from school. No matter who she asks, no one will tell her what happened to Constantine. She will find out the truth.
To start her writing career, Skeeter gets a job with the paper writing a Household Tip column. Of course, she has never cleaned anything in her life, and so she gets all the advice and tips from Aibileen (a black maid). Aibileen lost her son many years ago, and now she cleans and looks after the “white” babies, right now that is Mae Mobly Leefolt (love that name), her 17th white baby. Aibileen’s friend Minny, a sassy black maid has recently lost another job (she tells it like she sees it), and ends up working for Celia Foote, who Skeeter’s friends consider white trash. As Skeeter begins to see how different the white families treat their servants compared to other white employees, she discovers a drive in herself. She decides to write a book about the struggles of the colored maids in the South, and she wants Aibileen to convince other maids to participate. Unfortunately, none of the maids want to get involved. In the South in the 1960’s, it is simply too dangerous for them, and for Skeeter, to expose their hardships. But Skeeter is relentless. She thinks there is more to life than this small town with small-minded people. Skeeter is about to make enemies of both black and white.
This was a wonderful book. It was sad, funny, and thought-provoking all at once. It has also had a lot of criticism, but as I often say, it’s fiction (mostly), and it was a good read. I ended up routing for the maids, and for Skeeter. I loved Minny!
Favorite Quotes from The Help:
“I may not remember my name or what country I live in, but you and that pie is something I will never forget.”
“You is kind,” she say, “you is smart. You is important.”
“We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.”
About the Author: This is Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel. The Help was printed in over 35 countries, in 42 languages, and has sold over 10 million copies — after being rejected 60 times. Born and raised in Jackson Mississippi, she worked in New York in the magazine publishing industry before writing this novel.