Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Aug 29, 11

bookshelves: historical-fiction, library
Read from August 19 to 22, 2011

Aibileen. Minny, and Skeeter are three woman living in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. Aibileen is a maid who has raised seventeen white children while working for their families. After the death of her own son, she can tell that something inside of her has changed. Minny has a habit of being fired from every job she manages to find. She is determined to keep her latest position, despite the fact that her latest employer seems a little crazy. And Skeeter is a recent college graduate with big dreams of becoming a writer. When she stumbles upon the idea of writing a book about the life of the help, she thinks this may be her big break.

I learned about The Help while working at one of my library jobs. Patron after patron would take it out and recommend that I be the next one to read it. With the recent movie out, I decided that it was time I gave it a chance, despite the fact that it's a bit outside of my comfort zone. My first reaction to The Help was one of surprise. After speaking with several people that had read the book, I was under the impression that Skeeter was the main character, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that the story was equally split between three protagonists: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Each woman has a complex and distinct personality. Being a young woman in her twenties, I could relate strongest to Skeeter, but I found Aibileen and Minny's stories to be just as engrossing.

The plot of The Help is mostly focused around Skeeter's quest to interview black maids for her book. Aibileen and Minny are two of these maids, and end up helping Skeeter find other potential interviewees. The result, as a modern reader living in Maine, is very eye opening. The maids are paid far less than the minimum wage, and are often treated with very little respect. For example, Aibileen is forced to use a dingy bathroom in the garage so she's less likely to spread her “diseases” to her employers. The indication here, that blacks are naturally dirty and must be separated from whites in even their most basic needs, is very disturbing. But of course the relationship between the help and their employers is more complex with that. This is plainly see with Aibileen's job of raising white children. It's impossible for her not to fall in love with her charges, who sometimes even come to see her as their mother. Unfortunately, as they are products of their own environment they eventually grow up and become tainted by prejudice, which spoils the love they share. This is a heartbreaking situation.

Although The Help has it's faults (end doesn't seem that realistic), I found The Help to be a very satisfying book, and I enjoyed reading it from start to finish. I'm very glad this was recommended to me.
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Reading Progress

08/19/2011 page 82
18.0% "Had to see what all of the fuss was about. So far, I like it."
08/21/2011 page 199
44.0% "This book is actually quite good!" 4 comments
08/22/2011 page 368
82.0% "Less than 100 pages left, will probably finish within the next day or two."
08/22/2011 page 451
100.0% "Done! Despite a kinda weak ending, I found this to be satisfying overall. Review coming soon."

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Holly Very curious to see what you think of this one. I'm thinking of picking it up. :)


Nancy O'Toole I like it! Need to finish it fast though as there are several people in line for it at the library.


message 3: by Elle (new) - added it

Elle I keep meaning to read this but I avoid things that I know will make me cry!!


Nancy O'Toole This book was tear free for me. Even a little uplifting :)


Holly Just finished reading this! SO GOOD!!!


Nancy O'Toole Glad you liked it :)


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