Cindi's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Cindi I was half-expecting this book to be southern chick-lit, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. And it was a very good wrong. The Help, Kathryn Stockett's first novel is a gem with wonderful writing and thought-provoking themes.

Set in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era The Help depicts the lives of black maids and explores the relationships between the black help and the white families they work for - especially the women. I grew up in the North during this time period and remember being astonished at the stories I heard about life in the South. The Help made this picture real for me - it personalized the struggles of the women who lived this life because there were no other options in that time and place.

The characters are richly drawn - all of them, not just the protagonists and antagonists. I feel as if I know Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. I was drawn into their worlds - Aibileen's and Minny's resigned acceptance of their lives, even though they knew they had more within themselves to give. And I identified with Skeeter, the young woman who grew up within the white upper middle class of Jackson, but never really fit in and wasn't quite sure if she wanted to. I gained some perspective on the lives of the antagonists - Hilly and Elizabeth - and have some context for the mores and constraints with which this segment of society lived. I also feel acquainted with many of the other characters: Celia, Yule May, Lou Anne, Louvenia and the others.

This is the second time I've tried to write a review of this wonderful book. And for the second time I realize how much there is to say about it and how inadequate a job I am doing. I'd set it aside to pass on to a friend, but I just went and pulled it from that stack as I am going to have to read it again. Maybe then I'll be able to better articulate what I've experienced while reading and thinking about The Help.


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