Book recommendation: The Help

February 19, 2009

in Books

Like Skeeter, a main character in The Help, author Kathryn Stockett has uncanny timing.

In 1963 in Mississippi, Miss Skeeter is a journalism graduate and social oddity — the only member of the Junior League NOT to pursue an MRS degree. She is also the only one of her society sisters to notice there is something not quite right about the treatment of the “help” in their households, and about the unseen lines between races and classes that everybody assumes are real.

This dawns on Miss Skeeter on the eve of the Civil Rights movement.

Kathryn Stockett publishes her first novel, The Help, at the current point of the Civil Rights arc — within a month of the inauguration of the nation’s first racially integrated president.

Perhaps I should temper my gushing, but I really, really loved this book. There are three distinct voices from three well-developed characters:

  • Aibileen, a maid who has lost her own child and who has raised 17 white children. Her special gift, she knows, is to teach those little babies to receive and give love, and to help them feel important and worthwhile, even if their own mothers don’t take the time to cherish them. And
  • Minny, whose cooking skills are matched only by her sass. Said sass gets her in trouble family after family after family. Until she begins to work for Miss Celia who, maddeningly and clumsily, doesn’t adhere to the protocol of racial and class lines.
  • Skeeter, who returns from college to find that her beloved Constantine, the maid who raised her, has mysteriously up and left.

Despite the stifling social codes that separate them, these women join to tell their stories, risking all to make a subtle change in awareness of imaginary lines. Along the way, there are funny moments, heartbreaking instances, and a little terror. I actually cried on page 389 (my advance copy may be different from the one you read).

The change begins with mean girl Miss Hilly and her ideas about toilets. And there’s a load of crap that shows up from time to time.

This is the kind of book that you think about through the day, that you read way past bedtime, that you neglect your other duties for.

The Help just came out this week. Through MotherTalk, I received a complimentary copy . Normally I would give away my proof copy, but this is a book I will want to read with Tessa (and Reed) some day.

So you’ll have to get your own. The Help is most definitely nightstand-worthy.

(originally appeared on All Thumbs Reviews.)

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Sounds like a great book. I reserved it at the library just seconds ago.

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Melissa April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Very cool!! Will have to pick up a copy!

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Kristin April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Sounds like a great book. I reserved it at the library just seconds ago.

Reply

Melissa April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Very cool!! Will have to pick up a copy!

Reply

Amber April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

I think the greatest endorsement you could have given for the book is you want to read it with your children in the future!

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Steph April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

I am so putting this on my Amazon wish list! LOVE book suggestions! Without them I’d have money!

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nancy April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Sounds cool. Thanks for taking the time to review it for us!I’m actually reading a book of my own right now. Skinny Bitch. :)

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Martha April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Thanks for the review, always on the lookout for a good read.

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franticallysimple April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

That sounds great. I’m putting it on my list. :) Thanks for the recommendation.

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Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

I wanted to know more about your comment, Heather, so I checked out your review here:http://pnr-reviews.blogspot.com/2009/02/review-help.html(But I can’t bring up a comment box over there…?)

Reply

Heather April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Interesting–I had a very different reaction to the book. It was entertaining, but some of the characters bordered on stereotypical and the mostly untouched questions of Skeeter’s privilege and possible exploitation of the maids really troubled me.

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Jamie April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

You recommended this to my in a comment on my blog – I look forward to reading it!

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Bonnie April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Thank you for the book review! I’m going to reserve it at the library right now.

Reply

Amber April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

I think the greatest endorsement you could have given for the book is you want to read it with your children in the future!

Reply

Steph April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

I am so putting this on my Amazon wish list! LOVE book suggestions! Without them I’d have money!

Reply

nancy April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Sounds cool. Thanks for taking the time to review it for us!I’m actually reading a book of my own right now. Skinny Bitch. :)

Reply

Martha April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Thanks for the review, always on the lookout for a good read.

Reply

franticallysimple April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

That sounds great. I’m putting it on my list. :) Thanks for the recommendation.

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

I wanted to know more about your comment, Heather, so I checked out your review here:http://pnr-reviews.blogspot.com/2009/02/review-help.html(But I can’t bring up a comment box over there…?)

Reply

Heather April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Interesting–I had a very different reaction to the book. It was entertaining, but some of the characters bordered on stereotypical and the mostly untouched questions of Skeeter’s privilege and possible exploitation of the maids really troubled me.

Reply

Jamie April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

You recommended this to my in a comment on my blog – I look forward to reading it!

Reply

Bonnie April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Thank you for the book review! I’m going to reserve it at the library right now.

Reply

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