The Help recounts the stories of Aibileen and Minny, a pair of black maids who have spent their lives cleaning the homes and raising the children of white women, and Skeeter, a recent college graduate who’s still trying to find her purpose and herself. Together, they collect their stories and their experiences and, with the help of others, pen a novel about what it’s like to live and work in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962.
I have one word for The Help: exquisite.
Not only has Kathryn Stockett managed to create a fabulous novel packed with richly depicted characters that I adored, she tells an intricate and thought-provoking story that kept me glued to the pages. Quite frankly, The Help was an addictive piece of work for me. I had the hardest time putting it aside once I turned the first page; moreover, I don’t think I even put it down after I started learning Aibileen’s and Minny’s stories. (I’m pretty sure I was reading until four a.m.)
Besides being an absolute joy to read, The Help is a well-written piece of literature that brings together dialect, speech patterns, and personal memories to create singularly unique characters. Stockett makes it easy to dive right into the lives of Minny, Skeeter, and Aibileen. They’re wonderful characters with thoughts, dreams, and aspirations of their own that make them real and strikingly human. Their stories flow so easily, their memories weaving a beautiful tapestry about three women and their struggles within southern society. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride; however, it’s truly thrilling to experience.
I will note that The Help is envisioned in conjunction with the civil rights movement. It portrays the lives of three women in Jackson, Mississippi, when expectations for women, especially African American women, were very different. As such, Stockett’s novel often portrays some of the worst aspects of racism and sexism—and the abject unfairness that such extraordinary women are faced with such terribly prejudiced circumstances.