By Kathryn Stockett
Genre: Historical fiction
Is it part of a series? No
Recommended for: high school/adult
Reviewed by: Anonymous, Grade 12
S U M M A R Y :
Set in the early 1960s in segregated Jackson, Mississippi, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, is narrated by three very distinct and impressionable characters: Aibileen, an experienced middle-aged maid who is intelligent and soft-spoken; Skeeter, a young, aspiring writer who struggles to find a balance between the woman she wants to be and the woman that society expects her to be; and Minny, a "sass-mouthing" maid who has been fired numerous times because of her attitude but is nevertheless known for her cooking. The story unfolds as the town's female ringleader, Hilly Holbrook, plans to pass a bill that would require each white family to install a separate toilet for the "colored" help. Skeeter, who desperately needs an interesting topic to write about, sees this discrimination and decides to write from the point of view of the help. Though reluctant at first, the maids slowly begin to open up to her about both the positive and negative experiences they have had with their white bosses. Throughout the experience, the three women learn that great bravery and sacrifice is needed if one decides to speak the truth.
R E V I E W :
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I definitely regret seeing the movie first, however, because though the general synopsis was the same, there were (as always) things left out and changed. I felt that the writing was flowery but still straightforward and easy to understand; the dialect wasn't overdone and made the characters more believable. Many themes stood out to me in this novel: the hypocrisy of humanity; courage and bravery in the face of adversity; conformity as opposed to individuality; and the right to believe in one's morals. I really felt the fear that the colored help had when speaking to a white woman about their experiences as maids; having recently studied U.S. history and knowing about the Civil Rights movement of the '60s, it made me sympathize with the characters and praise Stockett even further for her depiction of these maids. This novel is one to which anyone can relate, for is there really anyone on this earth who hasn't felt different at one point in their life?
The cover of this novel is simple yet touching: It depicts three birds perched on a branch; one bird, however, seems to be the "odd one out" and is segregated from the other two birds.
This novel was a 5 for me; the heartfelt plot, personable characters, and excellent writing helped it stand out.