Jackie's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter are three women living and trying to survive in Jackson, Mississippi during the 60's. African-American maids Aibileen and Minny are hard-working, substitute mothers for the white babies they watch over each day. Skeeter is only in her early 20's, yet she is fresh from college, and missing the woman who raised her when she was young. She doesn't understand why Constantine left just before she got home from college. Skeeter begins to see things in Jackson for what they really are...a town bound by a cruel, judgemental mentality affecting both the Black and White communities. Black maids are humiliated, over-worked, and underpaid, yet their chances for better paying jobs are nil. Skeeter hatches the idea to write a book about the injustice in her town and enlists the help of Aibileen and Minny. Gentle Aibileen, quite a good writer in her own right, agrees since it was her now-deceased son's dream to write a telltale book. Gutsy Minny wants to put into print the lies, hatred, and belittlement received at the the hands of these snooty, holier-than-thou, pretentious Southern women.

As the idea for the book hatches and slowly becomes reality, these three women; two black, one white form a unified bond, and their stories (and those of other black maids) meld into one risky, enlightening tale that needs and has to be told. On board, is a Jewish editor in New York, who sees the story as one whose time has come, in these days of hate and bigotry...which is evident from the killing of Medger Evers, the marches in Washington, and from empassioned speeches by the eloquent Dr. Martin Luther King.

Even though the names of all the women and the town are changed, the town of Jackson sees themselves in the printed pages and thus, set out for revenge. More vicious lies are told, hearts are broken, and friendships are severed. Minny, Aibileen, and Skeeter each struggle through it all, and come out on the other side with a new-found, uplifting freedom...and the knowledge that, even though it takes baby steps, things are slowly changing..and that change is in the air.

The Help is a can't-put-it-down novel told in three entertaining and likeable voices. A story about changes that must be made in order to grant each person dignity and respect. Was it only such a short time ago that civil rights were absent for a good portion of the population? Yet, are we past the days of hatred and bigotry? This book will make the reader think long and hard about compassion, human dignity, and friendship.
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